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November 29, 2023

Oxford study says internet use doesn’t harm mental health, but its research has limits

  • The Oxford Internet Institute has declared that there is no “smoking gun” linking the internet with psychological harm.
  • Professors Andrew Przybylski and Matti Vuorre studied data from two million people aged 15 to 89 in 168 countries.
  • They found that in the last two decades of increasing online connectivity, there have only been minor shifts in global mental health.
  • However, the hard data from platforms is rarely made available to academic researchers, who have campaigned for years for more transparency from platforms.
  • The study reportedly fails to arrive at a strong conclusion, stating “Research on the effects of Internet technologies is stalled because the data most urgently needed are collected and held behind closed doors by technology companies and online platforms. […] Until these data can be transparently analysed for the public good, the potential harmful effects of the Internet and other digital environments will remain unknown.”
  • For more, please visit the Tech Crunch website.

European crackdown reveals widespread child sexual abuse material (CSAM) network

  • The operation was prompted by a tip-off from the US Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), leading to the arrest of 31 men across Europe being implicated in the network.
  • The network was primarily operated via the encrypted messaging service Signal.
  • Around 700 individuals of 73 different nationalities were identified by more than 70 investigators.
  • Undercover French gendarmes investigated and uncovered over 200,000 illicit files within the network.
  • Forty child crime groups were investigated, and 29 digital materials were seized.
  • Several suspects have been placed in pre-trial detention, some of which are also being prosecuted for rape of a minor under 15, and corruption of minors.
  • For more, please visit the Yahoo News website.

Cleverly outlines amendment plan to prevent sex offenders changing their names

  • The Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has announced that sex offenders will be prevented from changing their names in “certain circumstances”.
  • Mr Cleverly said that the Government intends to amend the Criminal Justice Bill as he reassured MPs that the Government remains committed to taking action.
  • It comes after Sarah Champion raised concerns of a loophole in the law which allows sex offenders to ignore the statutory requirements to notify the police of any name change.
  • The Bill will force criminals to attend their sentencing hearings, which comes after the trial of Lucy Letby.
  • It will also give police powers to enter a property without a court warrant to seize stolen goods such as phones tracked through GPS technology.
  • The Bill also criminalises the sharing of intimate images and allows the transfer of prisoners in and out of England and Wales to serve their sentence abroad.
  • For more, please visit the Independent website.

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Vaping: Head teachers crack down on post-Covid e-cigarette spike 

  • Schools have been clamping down on vaping following a rise in children using e-cigarettes since the pandemic.
  • Teachers have been left frustrated by the attractiveness and availability of the products to young people.
  • Two years ago, a Welsh school decided to introduce tougher sanctions and raise awareness of the rules and risks of vaping.
  • The assistant head teacher reported that the number of children caught with vapes had fallen “substantially.”
  • UK Vaping Industry Association boss John Dunne said: “Smokers trying to quit rely on disposable vapes and to ban them could potentially have fatal consequences.”
  • Health charity Ash Cymru said children addicted to nicotine should be supported, not punished.
  • Additionally, Chief executive Suzanne Cass reported: “It’s the people selling vapes to underage young people who are the criminals, not the children.”
  • For more, please visit the BBC News website.

Scotland launches ‘world first’ project to protect people who self-harm 

  • A new strategy in Scotland to support people who self-harm has been backed by funding of £1.5 million.
  • It is developed by the local authorities and Scottish Government and sets out a three-year action plan to help people at the highest risk and reduce stigma.
  • This is believed to be the first strategy dedicated to self-harm.
  • The plans aim to embed “compassionate understanding” of self-harm in healthcare and education as well as improving support and data-gathering.
  • A webchat service run by the charity Penumbra, which offers help out-of-hours, is also being funded by the Government.
  • Mental Wellbeing Minister Maree Todd said: “We believe that any person who has self-harmed or is thinking about self-harming should receive compassionate support with a focus on recovery, without fear of stigma or discrimination.”
  • She continued: “This work is also helping to build our understanding about self-harm and the most helpful interventions so that we can continue to improve the services on offer.”
  • For more, please visit The National website.