Brianna Ghey's mother receives thousands of messages of support in calls for online reform

  • Brianna Ghey's mum Esther spoke to ITV Granada Reports presenter Gamal Fahnbulleh about her campaign for the future

Almost 100,000 people have backed a petition by the mother of murdered teenager Brianna Ghey to remove social media apps from children's phones.

The online campaign is also calling for the introduction of a law which would prevent under 16s from owning a smart phone.

Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe were both 15 when they killed transgender Brianna, 16, with a hunting knife at Linear park in Warrington.

The pair had planned their attack on social media and Jenkinson had also watched videos of torture and murder online.

Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe were both 15 when they lured Brianna to Culcheth’s Linear Park before stabbing her 28 times. Credit: Cheshire police

Esther Ghey said Brianna's tragic death was a "stark reminder of the dangers that unrestricted technology use can pose to our children", with thousands coming out in support.

In the online comments on the petition, one contributor, who described themselves as a parent, teacher and historian said they were "thankful" for the campaign.

"As a parent I am so nervous about my children becoming teenagers and the battles I will have just trying to protect them," they said.

"As a teacher I can see the damage they do to children that deserve to enjoy their childhood and navigate it without the extreme pressure social media puts them under.

"As an historian I believe we will look back in horror at what we allowed these companies to do to our children.

"I am very thankful for this petition to boldly say children do not need phones with unfettered access to such harmful content and are not emotionally literate enough to deal with the impact of social media."

Rebecca Fulled added: "Under 18s shouldn't be on social media. Smartphones aren't for children."

Ryan Mooresky said he hoped the campaign was "a step in the right direction to prevent such a crime happening again", while Terence Scully said: "There are no excuses. With the technology available today companies can easily make social media safer for children.

Esther Ghey (right) is calling for the better safety for children online

Brianna's mother said her daughter was also exposed to harmful content online, which only exacerbated her issues around anorexia and social anxiety.

A law aimed at protecting young people online did pass into law in October.

The legislation requires social media companies to curb the spread of illegal content on their platforms and protect children from seeing potentially harmful material, with large fines among the potential penalties for those who breach the new rules.

But in a round of media interviews Ms Ghey said that whilst this was "a step in the right direction", she didn't believe it went far enough.

She added: "The internet and social media is so vast, I think it will be so hard to police.

“The second point is as well, that comments and free speech – and don’t get me wrong I am all for free speech – but some of the comments I have seen on social media posts and some of the articles that I’ve done, they are just hateful comments.

"The Online Safety Bill is not going to protect children and young people from seeing that kind of horrible content because I don’t think that will be deemed as harmful.

“Smartphone companies should have a moral responsibility and you should really want to do more.

“But I think that big companies like that are all about how much money they can generate and they don’t necessarily think about the impact it is having on the public, so I think that maybe there would have to be a law just to make sure it is properly enforced.”

Ms Ghey is also calling for the introduction of "mindfulness" in schools.

She has started the Peace in Mind campaign which hopes to teach children techniques for dealing with stress and anxiety.

Speaking to ITV Granada Reports, she said: "I think that there is a misconception about mindfulness, that it is something that is - for want of a better phrase - like airy fairy or tree hugging, and it isn't that.

"It's about building mental resilience and about building mental strength.

"Just as you might go to the gym and you might lift weights to make your body strong, mindfulness and meditation is making your mind strong."

Brianna Ghey

Ms Ghey has previously spoken about wanting to meet Jenkinson’s mother and said, if they did meet, "it would be a very private and a very personal thing between us".

She added: "I would like to meet Scarlett's mother just to find out if she's had the same struggles as what I've had and just to see what it was like for them as a family.

Earlier this month, Jenkinson and Ratcliffe – now both aged 16 – received life sentences at Manchester Crown Court and told to serve minimum terms of 22 years and 20 years before they can be considered for parole.

How could two seemingly ‘innocent’ teenagers became killers, concocting a kill list, luring Brianna into a park and stabbing her, in a "frenzied and ferocious" attack, 28 times?