Har­row­ing trial is stark warn­ing of dan­gers that lurk not just on­line

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - OPINION - david looby [email protected]­ple­news.ie

BOYS. That’s what has been oc­cu­py­ing the minds of all of us over the past days and weeks. 14-year-old boys, who were 13 when they killed a beau­ti­ful 14-year-old girl who should have had her whole life ahead of her. Specif­i­cally, Boy A and Boy B as they are called, and their court names are im­por­tant here.

It emerged on Thurs­day that a boy had been wrongly iden­ti­fied on­line as one of the killers. And the in­ter­net has been cen­tral to the re­port­ing of the case, which has fo­cussed on Boy A’s ob­ses­sion with pornog­ra­phy. Some 40,000 porno­graphic images were dis­cov­ered on his phone; de­grad­ing, vi­o­lent sex­ual images which, par­ents ev­ery­where be­lieve, have no place any­where near the eyes of a child.

Tanáiste Si­mon Coveney said the State needs to get in­volved in pro­tect­ing vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren and young peo­ple from cy­ber bul­ly­ing and porno­graphic ma­te­rial.

Mr Coveney ad­mit­ted that it was a very dif­fi­cult is­sue to get right, but he said he hoped to have leg­is­la­tion in­tro­duced by the end of the year.

The prob­lem is it won’t work. The re­al­ity is that teenage boys will watch porn. Any child or teenager who knows any­thing about tech­nol­ogy can get around the ban on un­der­18s ac­cess­ing porn, as has been borne out in the UK, whose reg­u­la­tory watch­dog has ac­knowl­edged vir­tual pri­vate net­works (VPNs) will al­low users to evade age ver­i­fi­ca­tion checks from July 15 by al­low­ing

un­der-aged users to cre­ate ghost ac­counts abroad that can ac­cess the porn sites.

The case has also led to the spew­ing of bile on­line call­ing for the boys to be named and shamed be­cause that re­ally worked in the case of Jamie Bul­ger’s killers!

A beau­ti­ful life was snuffed out by two boys. Ana Kriégel died in an act of vi­o­lence straight out of a hor­ror movie. The re­mote, aban­doned lo­ca­tion cho­sen by Boy A for the mur­der, the way she was lured from the safety of her home by Boy B to cer­tain vi­o­lence, if not mur­der, the sex­ual vi­o­lence in­flicted on Boy A’s 14-year-old vic­tim, this was all shock­ing. The de­tail the trial brought to light truly ter­ri­fy­ing.

The vic­tim at the heart of the story – a young girl who couldn’t fit in, no mat­ter how hard she tried – is some­one just like count­less other teenagers around us. Be­ing dif­fer­ent has never been easy, but so­cial me­dia has added a whole new di­men­sion; and a whole new av­enue for bul­lies to find a way in to ma­nip­u­late and gain power over peo­ple who make them un­com­fort­able in their skin.

Bold moves as be­ing pi­loted in St Brigid’s NS in Grey­stones should be tried in an at­tempt to break down the nar­row def­i­ni­tion of nor­mal that has, and still yet per­vades, within Ir­ish so­ci­ety.

As har­row­ing and up­set­ting as the de­tails of Ana’s case are, this is not a time for knee jerk, hang ‘em high, name and shame re­ac­tions, or quick fire gov­ern­ment so­lu­tions. Vi­o­lence, whether we like it or not, is part and par­cel of life and some chil­dren are born with a lack of em­pa­thy which leads them to com­mit vi­o­lent acts. The sex­ual vi­o­lence in­flicted on Anas­ta­sia Kriégel, whose first name means res­ur­rec­tion, has caused peo­ple to make a di­rect, con­tigu­ous link be­tween porn and vi­o­lence, but the adopted Rus­sian teen fell vic­tim to a darkness within.

Ana Kriégel, whose life was snuffed out in an act of shock­ing vi­o­lence.

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