Social media companies 'must be held accountable', says dad of Reading teen stabbed to death

  • Report by ITV Meridian's Mike Pearse

The father of a 13-year-old boy who was stabbed to death just metres from his home in Reading says more must be done to deal with an increasing number of knife attacks.

Olly Stephens was lured to a park in Emmer Green in January 2021 following a row on social media.

He was fatally stabbed by two 14 year old boys - they, along with another girl, 14, were sentenced to a total of 24 years in prison in September last year.

Olly's father, Stuart Stephens, says the Government and communities must work together and that those who run social media sites also have a crucial role to play.

Speaking at an event he helped organise in Woodley, Stuart said: "Our lives will never be the same again, we're not the people we were.

"The plans we had for the future have gone.

"You shouldn't lose a child in any circumstances, but losing one so brutally is extremely difficult to deal with."

Stuart says he wants to show teenagers there's more to life than sitting at home on mobile phones and social media sites - which he believes can be toxic.

Stuart Stephens believes social media can be 'toxic'

"There's a lot of content out there that should not be viewed by children, and even some adults. I've been shown some horrific stuff - that someone viewed as entertainment.

"By working to get the online safety bill through, we're hoping to raise more awareness, and make these companies accountable for the material that is out there."

Stuart helped organise an event in Woodley, Berkshire over the weekend where children could try fishing - a hobby that Stuart and his son Olly both enjoyed.

Olly Stephens was lured to a field by teenagers and then fatally stabbed.

The aim was to encourage children away from social media, as well as raise money for knife crime charities.

"If you give kids just two hours away from their mobile phones - they're completely different.

"They have more fun and behave differently, and there are always more smiles.

"Knife crime is about choices - it's a bad choice that gets you in a position where someone has lost their life and you end up in prison."