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Children: Internet

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what steps his Department has taken to encourage internet service providers to practise greater self-regulation in the area of pro-anorexia or pro-bulimia websites; (246090)

(2) what recent steps his Department has taken to promote awareness among parents of the dangers of pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia websites;

(3) what recent meetings his Department has had with internet service providers regarding websites which are pro-anorexia or pro-bulimia.

[holding answer 12 January 2009]: We take the issue of safety on the internet very seriously. That is why we asked Dr. Tanya Byron to lead an independent review on potential risks online and in video games—and we have fully accepted all her recommendations, including those on the needs for vulnerable groups. These include:

encouraging content hosts and search providers work with the relevant charities to make sure that advertisements with links to support services are displayed whenever users discuss or search for information about harmful behaviours;

encouraging content hosts to work with charities to improve moderation practices around discussions about harmful behaviours; and

targeted communications to raise awareness of internet content issues amongst those who work with vulnerable children and young people.

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety, a multi stakeholder forum, was launched in September 2008 to implement the Byron recommendations. Its work will lead to the publication of a Child Internet Safety Strategy later this year that will contain specific measures to make the internet a safer place.

We are also working with the Department of Health to implement the recommendations of the report of the independent review of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, ‘Children and Young People in Mind’, published on 18 November. We have set up a National Advisory Council for children's mental health and psychological wellbeing to advise us on implementing the recommendations of the independent review of CAMHS final report and hold us to account on progress. Better access to specialist services for children, young people and families is a priority area for the implementation of the CAMHS review's recommendations.

In addition, the Department of Health announced in October 2008 a £170 million expansion of psychological therapies to provide better support for people with common mental health problems such as eating disorders.