Prince William hosted the intimate chat at Kensington Palace as he prepares to release new details and findings from his cyberbullying taskforce
Prince William took on a therapist-style role as he hosted a moving video with a mother who lost her son, and a teen who contemplated suicide over cyberbullying.
The women, who were the prince’s guests at Kensington Palace, spoke to the royal dad about their deep traumas following the consequences of online abuse.
The film reveals William’s motivation for his taskforce on cyberbullying. Mom Lucy Alexander and teen Chloe Hine both contributed to the taskforce’s investigation over the last 18 months.
After the birth of his son, Prince George, William heard about a young boy “who had killed himself following a vicious campaign of online bullying,” a Kensington Palace statement says. “As he looked into the issue further it was soon clear there were many similar stories from the UK and around the world.”
He was then inspired to set up the ambitious taskforce, which brings together tech and media companies.
Last year, Lucy Alexander shared the story about her son, Felix, who took his own life following online abuse. She started her own campaign to raise awareness of the issues in an effort to ensure no other parents would suffer the heartbreak of losing a child to online bullies. “[William] read Lucy’s story and asked her to be one of the parents to help the taskforce better understand the impact of cyberbullying,” the statement adds.
In the video, which ends with William giving both women a compassionate hug, Lucy Alexander says, “I sort of feel that Felix has given me a job to do – and my job is to make sure that we try and help as many other people like him.”
Chloe Hine, who was a member of William’s Taskforce Youth Panel, attempted to take her own life at 13 years old after being attacked online. She explains in the video that it was while writing a goodbye note that she found comfort in the ability to express what she had been unable to say in person. “On social media you can’t escape it, you’re constantly with that bully. People just turned against me because they thought ‘she said this one thing this one time so let’s all hate her for that’, and it just spiraled out of control from there.”
She continues: “It’s written down, so it’s there to look back at, time and time again. And if you’re in a negative space, that’s all you can see. You look for the negativity and you look for the cruel things.”
William brought together some of the world’s most recognizable names in media and tech, such as Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter and online media companies, as well as children’s charities and parents, to work alongside the panel of young people to find ways to tackle cyberbullying.
On Thursday, William unveiled the results of his Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying, chaired by tech entrepreneur Brent Hoberman, and launched an Action Plan, which includes an online code of conduct called “Stop, Speak, Support.”
“The Taskforce has brought together social media platforms and internet service providers with those organizations and individuals who strive to protect and support children and young people,” William said in a powerful speech. “And after a year and a half of hard work and frank discussions, we can today unveil a plan of action to protect children and encourage a new standard of behavior online.
“And I am proud that listening to children and parents has been at the heart of our work,” he continued. “It has been their advice which has led us to this ambitious plan of action today.”
“To the children and young people here today, I want you to know that it is this hope for a positive future that has motivated everything we have done,” he added. “I am always amazed by the savviness and creativity of your generation. I am excited about the world you are going to create and then lead in decades to come.”
The Action Plan includes:
- The UK will today become the first country in the world to launch a national, youth-led, code of conduct for the internet – ‘Stop, Speak, Support’. A video launching the campaign is available here. This will be publicly promoted at 0600.
- For the first time ever the world’s biggest social media firms are adapting their platforms to provide direct access to support when bullying strikes. Facebook and Snapchat have worked with the NSPCC to create new functions that will be trialled among groups of young people. If successful, The Duke hopes it can become a global blueprint.
- A major new commitment to design ‘Safety Guidelines’ has been agreed by the social media and gaming firms in the Taskforce, as well as creating a new compliance process, with the sole drive to commit all platforms to keeping children and young people safe.
- Taskforce members are building a universal strategy for information, ensuring all online resources for support and help – whether aimed at young people or parents – are high quality, reliable and have common themes.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).