Brianna Ghey’s mum says mobile phones should be made specifically for children under 16 to protect them from online harms | UK News
The mother of murdered teenager Brianna Ghey has said mobile phones should be made specifically for children under 16 to protect them from online harms.
In an interview with Sky News’ Sophy Ridge, Esther Ghey added that tech giants and mobile phone companies need to “take more responsibility for children’s welfare”.
She also believes the Online Safety Act, introduced by the government in October 2023, doesn’t go far enough and called for more “drastic measures” to protect children.
Ms Ghey’s daughter Brianna, 16, was stabbed 28 times by Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, who were 15 at the time of the attack, after they lured her to Culcheth Linear Park in Warrington, Cheshire, on 11 February last year.
Brianna was described as an anxious and vulnerable teenager, with Ms Ghey believing this was partly because she spent a lot of time on her phone.
Ms Ghey also believes Brianna would still be alive if her teenage killers had been unable to access violent content on both the dark web and the regular internet as they plotted the murder.
Asked whether she believes there should be a ban on mobile phones in schools, Ms Ghey said it would be too difficult to enforce and there are “already so many pressures on teachers”.
However, she added: “I would like to see mobile phone companies, tech companies take more responsibility for children’s welfare… I’d like to see mobile phones specifically made for under 16s where they can’t access social media sites in the first place.
“Also, I’d like there to be a link to the adult’s phone, to the parent’s phone.
“There is already software available because schools are using this kind of software that can flag up concerning words, so that if a child is searching what Brianna’s killers did, then it would flag up instantly to the parent’s phone and then they will be able to take action.”
Calling on the government to do more to protect children online, Ms Ghey said she is “willing to speak to the experts and to the regulator (Ofcom) and just see what we can do”.
“I think it’s important to have these discussions and to see what we can do moving forward,” she said.
Ms Ghey has also met with the father of Molly Russell, who died from self-harm after viewing content related to suicide online, and is “really hoping to work alongside him to try to push for a change”.
Molly’s father Ian has campaigned for better protections against potentially dangerous social media algorithms since his daughter’s death in 2017.
In a wide-ranging discussion with Sophy Ridge, Ms Ghey also repeated her wish to meet Jenkinson’s mother.
She said she would like to “see how it was for her”, adding: “And if she had the same struggles as what I had with Brianna. And just to see what life was like as a family, really.”
Hundreds attend vigil for Brianna Ghey
Minister calls for ‘respectful language’ after PM’s transgender jibe
Family of one of Brianna’s killer’s ‘truly sorry’
Ms Ghey has reached out to Jenkinson’s mother but said she has not yet had a response, adding: “Hopefully we can meet in the future.
“If we do, it will be a very private and personal thing for both of us.”
Ms Ghey said she doesn’t blame the parents of Jenkinson and Ratcliffe for Brianna’s death, adding: “I know how hard it is to monitor what your child is doing and to safeguard them and to keep on track of everything that they’re taking in online.”
She also said she felt the judge’s sentencing was correct and believes her daughter’s killers will “never get out of prison”.
Ms Ghey added: “I think that Scarlett is very dangerous to society. And I think that her behaviour since being found guilty has also been very concerning. And I think that prison is definitely the best place for her.”
Brianna was transgender, with the Judge Mrs Justice Yip saying during sentencing that she took into account the “transphobic hostility” expressed by Ratcliffe before Brianna’s death.
Asked if she felt the fact her daughter was trans played a role in the killing, Ms Ghey said: “I think in Eddie’s case, it was a contributing factor. But I do think that Eddie is a hateful boy anyway, but, yeah, it definitely was (a contributing factor).”
Jenkinson was jailed for at least 22 years and Ratcliffe for a minimum of 20 years. They will be transferred to adult prisons when they turn 18.
Judge Mrs Justice Yip said both will remain in prison until they “no longer present a danger” to the public.
Ms Ghey said she would like Brianna’s “lasting legacy” to be improved mental health for young people and mindfulness taught across schools in England.
She added that practising mindfulness herself had helped her have the “mental resilience” to cope with her ordeal since her daughter’s death.