Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland



Wallace takes initiative on safe Internet use following tragic death

Ann McBride WALLACE High is taking the initiative on safe use of the internet by young people after the father of one of its Year 11 pupils who committed suicide at the start of the summer said he believed influences she came under while using a social networking website contributed to the tragedy.

Principal Mrs. Anne McBride told the school's recent annual prize distribution an information evening on the subject for par- ents was due to take place at Wallace later this month.

She also said the school's website gave details of an ICT policy containing internet guidance for parents with recommendations for clear family internet rules.

Mrs. McBride re-iterated some of the points made by Mr. Ian McAllister in the wake of his daughter Georgina's death at her family home in Annahilt on June 9.

She said teachers and parents 'may be uneasy at times' about the "wide and frequent use of networking sites by young people.

"But if the truth be told, many of us are ignorant of the full extent of their appeal, and perhaps also their power," she continued. "It is vital teachers and parents inform themselves fully about network sites in order to provide young people with adequate protection from cyber-bullying, stranger danger or access to unsuitable material."

The Principal also said Georgina's sudden death 'highlighted the vital importance' of 'a strong pastoral support system' for all the school's students.

She recalled how the teenager's tragic passing had 'shocked and deeply saddened' everyone at Wallace, highlighting the need for 'an environment where the sense of community is strengthened by the sharing of problems'.

Mrs. McBride paid a warm tribute to Georgina, referring to her "outgoing personality, sense of humour and love of sport. "Our thoughts continue to be with her parents and brother as they try to come to terms with their loss," she continued.

"Georgina is very much missed by us all. Her tragic death, as with that of a number of other young people in recent months, has brought heartbreak to family, friends and loved ones."

Following the death of his daughter Mr. McAllister urged parents to monitor their teenager's internet usage.

He explained he had taken a close look at her pages on the popular BEBO networking site and found some of what he read 'disturbing'.

Ulster Star