PARENTS NEED TO MONITOR INTERNET USE & OTHER ACTIVITIES

Image of vivid painting by Dublin Artist, Neil Douglas, at neildouglas09@gmail.com. Courtesy of the Artist.

 

 

The following are some of the topics covered ~

 

YOUNGSTERS ARE AT RISK

ON THEIR SMARTPHONES & ONLINE, etc

 EARLY, EASY, ACCESS TO PORNOGRAPHY

SEXUAL CONSENT DISCUSSION, TEENAGE BOYS

CYBER-BULLYING

BEWARE the LIGHT!!

CRUCIAL INFORMATION ON THE NEED FOR ADEQUATE SLEEP

DIFFICULT PRESSURES ON PARENTS, GUARDIANS, AND CARERS

HEALTH PROBLEMS & SCREEN USE IN YOUNG CHILDREN & OLDER ONES

WIDE-RANGING ADVICE AFTER THE HORAN TRIAL

WHAT DO SOFTWARE DESIGNERS DO TO PROTECT THEIR OWN CHILDREN? 

VIDEO GAME ADDICTION AND BRAIN DAMAGE

GAMBLING

 HOW TO PREPARE CHILDREN FOR A WORLD OF FAKE NEWS

 

 

 

I have re-examined the above topics which I believe are central to our caring for our children and young people with information and therefore with confidence.   I have added a new section which consists of the conversation led by Richie Sadlier and Elaine Byrnes held with teenage boys on the subject of sexual consent, and how the teenagers understand if it's been given or not. 

 

 

At the the end of the CYBER-BULLYING Section of PORNOGRAPHY, SEXUAL CONSENT & CYBERBULLYING, please see a new piece on protocols necessary to be put in place to manage communication and help control bullying of all kinds, bearing in mind the bullying and murder of 14-year-old Ana Kriégel.

 

 

Under the Section PORNOGRAPHY, SEXUAL CONSENT & CYBER-BULLYING, I have added details of the case of 14-year-old Ana Kriégel, murdered on 14 May 2018 by two 13-year-old boys.  This case includes one of the accused boys having many thousands of pieces of violent pornography, and a young girl who was 'bullied relentlessly'.  This is a very unusual case.  13-year-old boys rarely murder.  However, we do need to be aware of what is happening in the lives of our teenagers.  At the end of this Post is a piece by Conor Gallagher, Crime Correspondent of The Irish Times, which is well worth reading.  In the mix of Garda interviewing, evidence, and the court case, Ms Ana Kriégel must never be forgotten as the much loved and loving daughter, niece,  cousin, and friend.

 

Further, there is a new and sobering piece under  the PORNOGRAPHY heading by Jennifer O'Connell entitled "Online Porn and our Kids: It’s Time for an Uncomfortable Conversation".

 

 

 

I have added a new section HOW TO PREPARE CHILDREN FOR A WORLD OF FAKE NEWS at the end of the Post, which gives a very easy introduction to how stories are told and how and why we should believe, or not, what we are told

 

 

I shall be expanding as I come across new information and examples.

 

 Any and all comments, ideas, and suggestions are very welcome.

 

 

I have come across a very accessible, non-preachy, site to help families get a better balance in their lives ~ exercise, diet, recipes, screen time usage, and other suggestions ~ www.makeastart.ie ~ useful for all ages.

 

 

I am grateful to Rae Pica for introducing me to the very important work of Cindy Eckard, which can be found at the following ~ @screensandkids     www.screensandkids.us.  Her work on the effects of overuse of blue-light emitting devices on eyes, and eyesight, from early years is crucial information for us all.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Iseult Catherine O'Brien

Montessori Teacher & Supervisor  |  Volunteer Tutor with Second Level Students  |  

A Member of The Tutors' Association

 

 


 

 

 

 

RE-INTRODUCING

I have been banging on for years about the dangers of over-use, and prolonged late night use, of blue-light emitting devices, and the damage caused to young people's health, academic achievements, long-term cognitive and memory problems, plus the difficulties that follow from not being able to live up to their own and their families' expectations.

 

 

This concern has been compounded by the growing evidence I've seen around me, have discussed at length with a therapists and software technicians, and heard from people I know who work with young people, that online gambling has got to an extremely dangerous level with young people - with children also involved.

 

One has to wonder how children can afford such a habit?

 

 

 


 

 

  IT IS SO EASY FOR A YOUNG PERSON TO GET CAUGHT UP

  

 

'HORAN JAILED FOR COERCING GIRLS TO SEND SEXUALLY GRAPHIC PICTURES'

 

Sometimes a court case comes along and a whole nation may be held transfixed in horror at the terrifying experiences of the children involved, and the realisation amongst many parents, guardians, carers, and teachers, that they really do not know what's going on in the lives of their children, and that many do not understand the reach of a Smartphone or Tablet, and other such devices.

 

Dublin man’s computer had recorded

Skype calls between him and

two nine-year-old girls

 

 

  

A Dublin man who possessed thousands of child pornography images and coerced young girls to send him sexually graphic pictures and videos of themselves has been jailed for seven and a half years.

 

Matthew Horan (26) used  SkypeSnapchatInstagram  and Kik ~ an anonymous instant messaging application, to send and receive child porn images from six identified child users in Ireland and nine unknown users around the world.

 

A forensic examination of Horan’s computer uncovered recorded Skype calls between him and two nine-year-old-girls, both individually and together.  The recordings included footage of these girls engaging in graphic sexual acts.

 

Horan also took part in sexually explicit text conversations with the girls, during which there was an exchange of photos.

 

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Horan would use Kik to share child porn images and videos with unidentified users around the world, most of whom claimed to be young teenagers.

 

 

Threat to Share Images

He threatened to share an 11-year-old girl’s nude images to her social media accounts if she didn’t send him further graphic photos.

 

In the text exchange between them, this girl repeatedly told Horan she would kill herself.  He continued to coerce her to send more images, the court heard.

 

Horan pleaded guilty to a count each of sexually exploiting two girls within the State on dates between April 1st and November 23rd, 2014.

 

He pleaded guilty to two more counts of sexually exploiting a child and one count of distributing child pornography on dates in 2015.   He further pleaded guilty to possessing child porn at his address on July 11th, 2015. 

 

He pleaded guilty to three further counts of sexually exploiting female children through  Snapchat and   Instagram in the State on dates between May 21st, 2015 and July 7th, 2016.

 

He also pleaded guilty to possessing child porn on a Sony mobile phone at his home on July 7th, 2016.   He has no previous convictions.

 

 Judge Nolan ... said ... "the crimes were all committed for Horan’s indulgence and pleasure and Horan had exploited children in a most horrible way"  

 

He said Horan’s actions would have long-term effects on the victims.

He knew what he was doing was wrong.  He understood the damage and yet he didn’t stop what he was doing, he said.

 

 

 

[All text in italics is copied from The Irish Times online Articles.  Colouring of text and headings was added by me, ICOB.]

 

 

 


 

 

 

 LET US USE THE ABOVE TO 

LEARN AND TEACH

 

 

The above are edited elements of the coverage of the trial which I hope would be of general use to children, young people, and the adults in their lives, as an introduction to the topic of staying safe online, on Tablets, Smartphones and other devices. 

 

 

I suggest that all parents, guardians, and carers (PGCs), and any adults who play a large part in children's, youngsters' and young adults' lives read ALL the various articles listed in this Post.  If a child or young teenager has heard of the case, and wants to know more, reading through the articles together would be useful for both the adult and the child or young person. 

 

 

I suggest the adult should read through first, checking the meanings of any technical terms, or any everyday terms that had never seemed so scary previously.   

 

 

The adult would feel more confident about being able to answer possible questions.   Once armed with information, I believe the PGCs, or significant adults, should start a conversation at a quiet, relaxed time, about the court case, asking if the youngster has heard anything about it.   

 

 

It may have been huge in Ireland, but people overseas will be unaware of this court case, and the public's memory fades.   

 

 

While bearing in mind that this case focused on young girls, and that boys are equally at risk, I suggest putting these horrible experiences to a positive use, as the basis for study by families, classes, and all students, to check that everyone knows what to look out for, and what to do if there is a fear that personal information has passed to another.

 

 

The situation of the young girls would bring both empathy and determination out in children, youngsters, and young people.  No-one would want to go through their experiences, and they are easy to imagine. 

 

 

I believe  having prepared a child by saying what you are about to read with him or her is upsetting, but very important to know about - the adult should just jump in, and trust to his or her relationship with the child, and that any worried questions shall be answered.  

 

 

Take your time.   Take opportunities to ask if he or she understands what has happened so far.   It doesn't have to be done all in one evening - it's more important that all the information available and required is mined. 

 

 

Be ready to answer questions over weeks and maybe months.   That would be a very positive sign.  This is a very big subject, and realisation will hit the young in sudden moments, and after consideration.  Those are the times when question might be formulating to be asked.  

 

 

We need to stay alert, and ask if there are any questions or suggestions the child or young person wants to put. 

 

 

It's easy to become complacent, thinking one knows what's going on.  

This story brings out all the nurturing and fear in any adult.

 

 

Don't worry If something comes up that you, the adult, hasn't checked - you should just say straight out, that ~

"I don't understand that, but we'll find out the meaning.  We're both learning a good deal of new and really important information because of the bravery of those girls - and pretending we know something when we don't, is not good for either of us.  Information is Power!"

 

 

It's a truly shocking case, and sometimes

we need a jolt to get motivated.

 

 


 

 

 

THE DEVICES WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT

 

 

To help us be clear what devices we need to consider in relation to our children's and young people's welfare, I list below the devices included in The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Australian Child Health Poll of 21 June 2017.   The Poll is covered in detail below.

 

 

A screen-based device is defined as a television, computer, laptop, gaming console, iPhone, Smartphone, iPad and Tablet

 

 

Given details reported during his court case of the devices and apps used by Matthew Horan, I'm adding Skype, Snapchat, Instagram, Kik, and mobile / cell phones to the list, hoping to give as broad a sweep of devices and software as I can. 

 

 

Any and all suggestions and information would be very welcome.  

 

 

Grainne Long, Chief Executive of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), said parents must set boundaries and structures for their children’s internet use.  She also said if they (the parents) were uncertain about the technology being used, they should call into stores where staff can advise them.

 

 

I believe Ms Long's is an excellent suggestion.  

 

We could expand it to ringing the supplier(s) of our devices, and arranging to go into the shop(s) with the whole family's devices, with everyone included - all the children, youngsters, young adults, and the PGCs in the house, their help could bring a great deal of clarity.  

 

 

The technicians in the shop would know where all the switches for turning off inappropriate films, music videos, and given the current zeitgeist they would be keen to make suggestions.  Most assistants working in these shops are young people, and they are happy to share their information, and to help adults learn how to be in control of the family's devices. 

 

 

They could show apps that are age inappropriate or actually adult material.  I know I'd be very relieved to be helped out by someone working in an electronic goods shop, or a shop supplying all kinds of phones.  We are creatures of habit, and are inclined to stick to the same shop(s) if it has / they have worked out well previously.

 

 

Further Garda quotes and advice regarding the Horan case can be found near the end of this Post.

 

 


 

 

  

 PARENTS NEED TO MONITOR THEIR CHILDREN'S INTERNET USE,

SAYS ISPCC

[Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children]

 

 

GRAINNE LONG SAYS ~

PARENTS MUST SET BOUNDARIES AND STRUCTURES FOR INTERNET USE

 

 

Reporter Mark Hilliard

See https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/circuit-court for full text of Irish Times Articles. Updated: The Irish Times, Fri, Jan 26, 2018, 15:59

 

 

Children’s advocates have stressed the need for parents to monitor their children’s internet use and establish an environment in which young people can seek help if they are approached by predators.

 

Grainne Long, Chief Executive of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), said parents must set boundaries and structures for their children’s internet use.

 

They need to look at the amount of time their children are online, what age they start going online and what they are watching,” she told RTÉ’s 'News at One'.

 

Encouraging parents to sit down and talk through the issues with their children, she said if they were uncertain about the technology being used, they should call into stores where staff can advise them.

 

 

“They key point is this is a solvable problem”, she said.

 

 

Áine Lynch, Chief Executive of the National Parents Council primary, said it is difficult for parents to keep up with different apps and online platforms but focusing on these individually is not necessarily the answer.

 

 

The threat of adults seeking to abuse vulnerable children has existed since before technology, she said, and  “we need to take the learning from that [and apply it] to the online life of the child as well”.

 

 

What will keep children safe is to empower them to do things - one of the things that is always common is that children haven’t been able to tell anyone about it”, she told The Irish Times.

 

 

 

[All text in italics is copied from The Irish Times online Articles.   Any colouring and underlining of text and headings, and enlarging of headlines, were added by me, ICOB.]

  

 


 

  

PORNOGRAPHY, SEXUAL CONSENT & CYBER-BULLYING

Image of vivid painting by Dublin Artist, Neil Douglas, at neildouglas09@gmail.com. Courtesy of the Artist.

 

 

 PORNOGRAPHY, SEXUAL CONSENT

& CYBER-BULLYING

 

 

 

PORNOGRAPHY

 

 

Also very dangerous, and greatly to the detriment and harm of mostly early teenage boys to young men, and then to the girls and young women they know, is how they may come to view and compare themselves, and other young people, as a consequence of frequent visits by large numbers of 13-17 year old boys / young men  to pornography sites.  It is thought around 82% of boys from the age of 11 to 12 upwards, are viewing pornography regularly, and use it to learn how to interact with girls.

 

 

They usually start watching at around 11-12 years of age.

 

It's thought around 82 per cent of Irish boys have viewed pornography by this age.

 

 

I knew Richie Sadlier was due to start a monthly Column in the Health Section of The Irish Times.   The headline below could not have been more timely, and the article is a must-read for all parents, guardians, and carers, teachers, and anyone who works with young people, or who happens to be in their company regularly.

 

 

"Richie Sadlier: Talking with teenage boys about porn, drink and suicide

The psychotherapist and former pro soccer player kicks off a new monthly health column in The Irish Times."   

 

Go to www.irishtimes.com, to find his Column; he is also available on Facebook and Twitter.   This is exactly what teenage boys, young men need and, of course, girls and young women also.

 

 

The low status boys and young men learn, through watching pornography, to think of as appropriate to women and girls - their perceived lack of a girl's / woman's personal integrity  -  and a presumption of their constant sexual availability - are likely to cause confusion at the very least, in the REAL world, and certainly likely to cause offence and, possibly, result in violent incidents.   

 

 

Teenage boys and young men may have a very confused idea of consent.  They think they have to be told "No!" for consent to be denied.   Someone unconscious drunk or on drugs cannot say "No!", and that lack of simplicity can lead to very strange, unhappy, and dangerous misconceptions.

 

 

Richie Sadlier was interviewed on the RTÉ 1 television programme, the Ray D'Arcy Show, on Saturday 06 January last: Season 2017, Episode 13. 

Go to https://www.rte.ie to search for the programme from abroad.

Go to https://www.rte.ie/player/gb/show/the-ray-darcy-show-30003587/10825024/, to view it within the Republic of Ireland.

 

 

Please don't think your brother, son or nephew, would never do this kind of thing!

 

  All young people are curious.

  

This is a very warped way to learn

about personal relationships.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Online Porn and our Kids:

It’s Time for an Uncomfortable Conversation

 

 

Children viewing endless, sexually explicit, violent material shouldn’t be inevitable.

 

 

Sat, Jul 27, 2019, The Irish Times

 

Jennifer O'Connell

 

 

 

As a parent, it is hard not to wonder exactly what you’re doing when you put a smartphone into your child’s hands for the first time.

 

 

 

This isn’t going to be easy reading.  These are things that are difficult to talk about, difficult to think about.

 

The boy was 14 years old when his mother walked into her sitting room to find him abusing his younger sister.  She was eight.  He was copying things he had seen on Pornhub, he would later tell Gardaí.

 

At the Central Criminal Court earlier this year, the now 16-year-old pleaded guilty to five counts of oral rape and 44 counts of sexual assault of his half-sister.  He was ordered by Mr Justice Michael White to live away from his mother’s home as part of a suspended sentence.

 

 

Earlier this month, another case was before the same judge involving a child sexually exploiting other children.  This time, the accused boy told Gardaí he “became obsessed with sex”.  His lawyers said he had begun looking at porn online “at a very young age”.

 

 

This case, the judge said, was the fourth he had personally dealt with, in which young children have committed the most serious offences”, starting with exposure to pornography on smartphones”.

 

 

“It is very serious and a matter of great concern,” he said.  The kind of offending the court is seeing “goes way beyond consensual sexual experimentation”.

 

 

As a parent, it is hard not to wonder exactly what you’re doing when you put their own smartphone into your adolescent’s hands for the first time.

 

 

Fabian Thylmann isn’t exactly a Steve Jobs or a Mark Zuckerberg.  He’s not a household name.  But he’s arguably having an even more profound impact on the lives of our children.  In 2007, the reclusive engineer brought the world what it hadn’t yet realised it desperately wanted: free streaming porn.

 

 

Social Costs

In 2017, the journalist Jon Ronson outlined some of the social costs of this then decade-old experiment in his brilliant podcast series, The Butterfly Effect.  Erectile dysfunction in young men, he found, was up by 1,000 per cent since Thylmann introduced free streaming porn.  In one episode, he interviews an autistic boy who tried to interact with a girl he liked by texting her things he’d heard men say in porn videos.  It didn’t go well: the boy ended up on the sex offenders’ list.

 

 

Today, many counsellors and psychologists have similar stories of children who mistook porn for real life, with catastrophic results.

 

 

 

So What are Parents to Do?

Some try to hold back the tide, and refuse to give into smartphones for as long as possible.  My 13-year-old has an old-fashioned Nokia brick. 

 

 

The rest fall roughly into two groups, divided along either side of what researchers in the US call the “parental naivety gap”.  

 

 

On one side are the ones who give their child a smartphone in their early teens, and try not to think too much about what they might do with it.  My child wouldn’t, they say optimistically.  I know my son.  My daughter’s not like that.  He wouldn’t’.  She won’t.

 

 

On the other are those who take a more pragmatic approach.  They don’t love the idea of their children accessing porn, but they’re not sure there’s much they can do about it.  So they hand the phone over, install the parental control filters that they know their children will figure out a way around, and save the pin code.  Porn, they shrug in private conversations with their friends, is inevitable. It’s part of growing up.

 

 

 

But Here’s the Thing

Sexual curiosity is normal.  Children being eager to find out what all the fuss is about is normal.  But children viewing endless, sexually explicit, and often violent, material shouldn’t be inevitable.  And in our efforts to be realistic and grown-up about this, we may be in danger of normalising something that is not normal.

 

 

 

Self-Regulation

Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister), Simon Coveney, recently said the ease of access to online pornography was “a worry for every parent in the country”.

 

 

“The days of self-regulation of the internet is over,” he added, leading to suggestions that Ireland might move to block unrestricted access to porn, as the UK is attempting to do.

 

 

 

Some experts believe it’s too late to turn back the tide of free streaming porn; there is, they say, no technological solution capable of stopping what Fabian Thylmann started.

 

 

 

But it isn’t too late to have uncomfortable conversations with our children about the messages they get from porn: such as the message that all women are always available for sex at all times with any man.  That women like men who are forceful or even violent.  That “no” often means “yes”.

 

 

Now when we talk about sex, we need to talk about porn, respect, consent, sexuality, body image and boundaries.  

 

 

We don’t need to terrify them into believing watching porn will ruin their lives, destroy their relationships and warp their libidos, maybe, but we do need to talk about it.

 

 

It sometimes feels as though, lured by the promise of (Convenience?  Security?  Connectivity?  A quiet life?  Not having to say “no” when every other parent in your circle is saying “yes”?  All of the above?)  we have unthinkingly signed our children up to a social experiment.  And we’re only beginning to witness what happens what the experiment goes horribly, unimaginably wrong.

 

 

joconnell@irishtimes.com

 

 

 


 

 

 

The Article below is quoted from The Irish Times of

Sun, Dec 17, 2017 ~ Roe McDermott's Column.  

 

 

LIFE & STYLE - Health & Family - Parenting

 

 

"How do I talk to my teenage sons about pornography?"

"I don’t want to ignore the issue but I’ve no idea how I’m supposed to raise the topic."

 

 

 

Roe McDermott

 

"Having these conversations with your children isn’t going to just teach them about pornography; they’re going to teach your children how to be mindful, critically engaged, empathetic, and self-aware."

 

 

Dear Roe,

"I’m the mother of two boys, ages 13 and 15.  I’m constantly reading and hearing about how young men are exposed to pornography at a young age, and how it causes issues regarding how they view sex and women.  I don’t want to ignore the issue but I have no idea how I’m supposed to raise the topic with my sons, or what indeed I should say.  Do you have any advice on how to tackle this?"

 

 

Reply ~

"You’re right to want to address pornography with your sons.  Too many parents are aware of the potentially damaging messages that young people can receive from pornography, but refuse to open up a dialogue with their children about it.  It’s vital to teach your children that sex and sexuality aren’t shameful and – like anything else – they are allowed ask questions about it, in order to learn.

 

 

"Of course, sometimes you won’t have all the answers, but it’s then that you can turn to trusted educational resources – together.  Being part of your children’s education process around sex means that not only are you aware of what they’re learning, you’re also showing them that in your home, education and information are empowering forces.

 

 

"By remaining silent and refusing to acknowledge the existence of pornography, you’d be teaching them not to talk about sex, not to ask questions, not to communicate about it.  

 

"You’d be teaching them that your embarrassment is more important than their education and empowerment.  You’d be teaching them that sex is uncomfortable, and that discomfort trumps everything else, including their wellbeing."

 

 

Roe McDermott is a writer and Fulbright scholar with an MA in sexuality studies from San Francisco State University.  

She is currently undertaking a PhD in gendered and sexual citizenship at the Open University and Oxford.

 

 

 

[The colouring, underlining, and highlighting of text and headings, use of italics and enlarged headings, were added by me, ICOB.]

 

 

 


 

 

SEXUAL CONSENT

 

‘So if you go out and both get drunk you can’t have sex?  That’s f**ked up’

 

Richie Sadlier and Elaine Byrnes discuss consent with transition year boys.

 

Richie: Does anyone in the class have any idea how they might explain consent to someone?

 

Joey: Just tell them that no means no.

 

Elaine: Okay, but remember the absence of a no doesn’t mean the presence of a yes. Silence isn’t consent.

 

Johnny: But if someone isn’t giving any indication they’re not consenting, how are we meant to know?

 

Shane: You’d see it on their face.

 

Johnny: Yeah but let’s say the room is dark?

 

Shane: You’d know by their body language. They’d be frozen stiff or something. Ah, you’d know.

 

Paulo: Yeah but they could just be really rigid and shy, or quiet. What’s the difference?

 

Shane: Ah there’s a difference.

 

Johnny: Yeah but how are we meant to be sure?

 

[Silence]

 

Elaine: Anyone?

 

Harry: You could ask them straight out if they’re up for it.

 

Elaine: Yes! And don’t be afraid to be really specific. Communication is everything when it comes to consent.

 

Gareth: Okay, what are you meant to say? “Am I raping you or not?” [Room laughs]

 

Richie: Well that might kill the mood a little. Maybe think of other ways to phrase it, but checking to make sure they’re comfortable and enjoying themselves is not a bad thing.

 

Johnny: Yeah but I heard that if the girl is drunk and even if she says that she’s enjoying it at the time, it’s still rape. Is that true?

 

Richie: Well the legal definition of rape is penetrating someone without consent. A person incapacitated through drink or drugs would be considered too wasted to give consent. So yes, if she’s drunk, you’re vulnerable in the eyes of the law.

 

Johnny: That’s f**ked up! So if you go out and you both get drunk you can’t have sex? Isn’t that, like, 90 per cent of how people have sex in Ireland? Get drunk first and then shag?

Neil: Yeah, sure everyone drinks.

 

Richie: I don’t drink.

 

Gareth: Yeah, but we’re not trying to have sex with you.

 

[Room laughs]

 

Richie: Nobody is saying you can’t have sex. The law says if your partner is heavily intoxicated, though, they can’t give consent. That’s the definition that matters in the courts. And this isn’t just about penetrative sex. We’re talking about all sexual behaviours.

 

Johnny: Yeah but what’s the difference between normal levels of drunkenness and being too drunk? How can you tell?

 

[Silence]

 

Elaine: Anyone? Where exactly is the line?

 

Joey: Well if she can’t remember anything that happened, she’s obviously too drunk.

 

Paulo: Yeah but you won’t know that til the next morning. How are you supposed to know there and then?

 

[Silence]

 

Richie: Anyone? Where exactly is the line between normal drunk and way too drunk?

 

Joey: If she’s slurring her words, she’s obviously too drunk.

 

Thomas: Everyone slurs their words when they’re drunk. You’d never have sex if that’s where the bar is.

 

Joey: I’d say if she’s falling around, or her balance is all over the shop, then she’s too drunk.

 

Thomas: That happens to everyone, too.

 

Luke: Yeah but what if you’re the same amount of drunk – how are you meant to notice?

 

Richie: Not sure I follow. Say a bit more . . .

 

Luke: Well you’re saying all men should know when a woman is too drunk to have sex . . .

 

Richie: Actually, we never said that. We just stated what the law says. We didn’t specify gender either.

 

Luke: Okay, fair enough, but you’re basically saying men should be the ones to stop everything if the girl is drunk, even if the girl is saying at the time that she wants it.

 

Elaine: That’s not what we said either.

 

Luke: Okay but what I’m saying is – if both people are the same amount of drunk – how are blokes expected to be all responsible and stop what they’re both doing? They’re out of their heads too, remember. It’s f**ked up that in those situations the bloke is the one who can be accused of rape. That’s what I’m saying.

 

Elaine: Anyone got anything to say to that?

 

Johnny: Luke’s right. The law is bulls**t. Why are men the ones who have to take responsibility for the woman’s drunkenness?

 

Bobby: That’s not what the law says. Listen to what they’re saying. It just says there’s a point where someone can be too out of it to give consent, so even if they say yes, you should still walk away.

 

Richie: It doesn’t say walk away. It’s making you aware that being intoxicated can influence a person’s body language and facial expressions, even their words. It’s up to you to know how to behave if you’re ever in that situation. And remember, the law only becomes a consideration if there’s an allegation. I don’t want you to get the impression that any woman that has sex while drunk – even if she can’t remember every detail – will automatically go to the gardaí. I’m just saying you should always take responsibility for your own actions in this area.

 

Gareth: Yeah but you’re kind of saying we should take responsibility for the girls drinking too, like we have to be the ones to make decisions on their behalf. I’m a feminist, you know. What about equality? [Room laughs]

 

Richie: I don’t think that’s what I’m saying.

 

Conor: It basically is, though. Let’s say we’re the same level of drunk, you’re saying the girl’s words – her saying yes – don’t count if she was hammered, but the bloke’s actions – penetrating her – does. Is that not bulls**t?

 

 

Conor: Yeah but they’re scumbags. We’re not. We’re just trying to get laid [room laughs]. You’re making out, okay, sorry – the law is making out – that there’s a higher standard of behaviour on us lads. That’s bulls**t.

 

Elaine: I suppose what we’re saying is how important respect is when it comes to consent. Respect for yourself and respect for others. So, just to keep that in mind – you being drunk or the other person being drunk doesn’t change that.

 

Leo: If a girl is hammered, though, shouldn’t the conversation be about why she’s hammered? You’re telling us to be responsible when it comes to alcohol and drugs, why shouldn’t women be held responsible too?

 

Richie: Lads, men can be raped too. This isn’t a man / woman thing. The law is there to protect everyone.

 

Conor: Okay, but I read about this bloke that was accused of rape and he didn’t do it and the girl just got away with making it up and now his life is ruined.

 

Richie: I don’t know the details of that one, obviously, but everyone in the world is vulnerable to a false allegation. Men and women, remember. Any time you’re ever in a room alone with someone they can accuse you of anything, so everyone is vulnerable to that. It’s worth being pretty selective who you go into a room alone with if that’s your concern.

 

Leo: Yeah but why does everyone automatically believe the girl? You look on social media and everyone assumes the girl is right and the bloke’s reputation is ruined. Since #MeToo nobody believes blokes anymore.

 

Richie: That’s not a reflection of how the courts generally see it. Have you seen the conviction rates compared to the number of reported rapes? Anyone know roughly how many rapes go unreported?

 

Johnny: But a man’s life is ruined if he’s accused.

 

Richie: How would you compare that to the experience of being raped and not believed? Or being raped and not even reporting it cos you think you won’t be believed?

 

[Silence]

 

Richie: Let me ask you this way – if you came to me this morning and said you had been raped last night, would you want me to believe you? [Room laughs] No, seriously, let’s move away from the notion that women are the only victims of rape here.

 

Leo: Well obviously, yeah.

 

Richie: Okay, and let’s say it happened while you were at a party with a load of older blokes and you were drunk. Would you want people to say it was your fault cos you were drunk? Or that you should have known better than go to a house with older lads or some s**t like that?

 

Leo: Obviously not, no.

 

Richie: So why did you say we should discuss the woman’s drinking if she was drunk?

 

[Silence]

 

Richie: Sorry lads, we’re out of time here. Anyone got anything to say before we finish up?

 

[Silence]

 

Elaine: So would it have been enough for us to just say to you all that no means no?

 

[Lots of heads shake]

 

Elaine: And if we asked any of you to explain consent to someone now, what would you say?

 

Gareth: I’d tell them to never drink and stay a virgin cos it’s not worth the f**king hassle. [Room laughs]

 

Richie and Elaine: See you next week, lads.

 

 

 
 
 

 [The colouring and highlighting of text and headings, and enlarged headings, were added by me, ICOB.]

 


 

 

 

 

 CYBER-BULLYING

 

 

 

Please See LUKE Culhane's video on YouTube entitled

 

'Cyber Bullying: Create No Hate' 

 

which went viral.  Luke's video recounts his own experience of being bullied on-line. 

 

 

Every PGC and teacher needs  to make themselves knowledgeable about  this  pernicious type of bullying.  PGCs have to take on the responsibility of learning about cyber-bullying, and  then make sure their offspring also know about it, and know they should tell as soon as anything nasty happens on-line. 

 

 

WHAT DO PARENTS, GUARDIANS, AND

CARERS KNOW ABOUT CYBER-BULLYING?

HAVE PGCs made themselves aware of the ubiquitous nature of cyber-bullying, and how extremely damaging it is to any child, young person, or adult? 

 

 

Go to www.webwise.ie for advice for PGCs, teachers, and anyone who should make him or herself knowledgeable on cyber-bullying

 

 

 

PGCs cannot leave this job to

teachers and the school. 

 

 

Our children's and young people's welfare have to be our priority - please take this issue seriously.  Young people can become isolated, may self-harm and, in some cases, take their lives. 

 

 

Some truly cannot live with the constant bullying.

 

 


 

 

 

LUKE Culhane (then 13), from Limerick, Ireland, created a video entitled

 

'Cyber Bullying: Create No Hate' 

 

which went viral on YouTube.  Luke's video recounts his own experience of being bullied online. 

 

 

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT VIEWING FOR ALL PGCs, YOUNG PEOPLE, AND CHILDREN.

 

Cyber-bullying can happen to anyone on a seemingly random basis.  Frequently, young people keep it to themselves ~ they do not tell PGCs and, often, not even their best friends.  The results of this COWARDLY bullying can be appalling for everyone in the family, not just the selected victim. 

 

 

PGCs REALLY NEED to find out about this pernicious activity; when they have informed themselves, they will have a better idea what to look out for in their young people and children.

 

 

A conversation on the whole topic, with everyone present, would make the subject easier for everyone to ask about and talk about.  Show Luke's YouTube video, even young children will be able to understand its message, and it would be a good starting point for your conversation.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

14-year-old Ana Kriégel was

Murdered on 14 May 2018

by Two 13-year-old Boys 

 

 

14-year-old Ana Kriégel was lured by Boy B, and brought to meet Boy A on 14 May 2018, she was viciously sexually assaulted and murdered.  On Tuesday 18 June 2019, Boy A was found guilty of the murder and aggravated sexual assault of Anastasia Kriégel, the registrar announced.  Boy B was found guilty of her murder.  

 

 

The forewoman of the jury confirmed these

were unanimous verdicts.

 

 

The legal age of criminal responsibility in Ireland is 12, but this drops to 10 when rape or murder is alleged.  At 13, Boys A and B became the youngest people in the history of the State to be charged with murder.  Their sentences will be handed down in July 2019. 

 

 

UPDATE 15 July 2019: The sentencing of the two boys convicted of the murder of 14-year-old Ana Kriégel has been adjourned to October 2019 because psychological assessments of the teens have not been completed.

 

 

Minors are not named in trials in Ireland and there has been furore over the address of Boy B and other identifications appearing on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

Ms Kriégel had a staggering number of injuries 

During the trial Dr Cassidy, now retired State Pathologist, spent about 40 minutes just listing the 50 injury sites.  There were bruises and lacerations all over the body the most serious to Ms Kriégel’s head, face and neck. 

 

Boys A and B were excused from the Court for the Pathologist's evidence.

 

Ms Kriégel's parents sat through every minute of the trial, and gave evidence on what their daughter was like, what she enjoyed, and how she was subjected to frequent bullying, face-to-face and online.  

 

 

Born in February 2004 in Novokuznetsk, an industrial city in western Siberia, Ana was adopted and brought to Ireland by Geraldine and Patric Kriégel in 2006.  She was their first child.

 

 

Being Bullied

Ana’s resource teacher in junior school told her parents, Geraldine and Patric, she was terrified for her, because she was so innocent.  She feared other students would take advantage of this.

 

The parents met early with the management of the secondary school to highlight their concerns about Ana being a potential target for bullies.

 

In fact, the bullies didn’t even wait for her to start school.   During the Summer after sixth class Ana was bullied online by third-year students who sent her sexually suggestive messages.

 

 

Much of the bullying was about her height. Ana was “a typical Siberian”, her mother would later say in court, strong and tall.  By the time she was 13 she was 173cm, or 5ft 8in, tall.  “She looked much older than her years,” her mother said.  “She could have passed for an 18-year-old.”

 

 

The bullies also mocked the fact that she was adopted, telling her she had a “fake mam and dad.”  

 

 

That Halloween, Ana came home hysterical and terrified.  She had been walking back after supervising a disco for young children (“she volunteered for everything,” Geraldine said) when four boys approached.  One asked her repeatedly for sex before hitting her on the backside.  A complaint was made to the Garda, and the boy received a caution.

 

 

 

Pornography on Boy A's Mobiles

As part of the assault investigation Gardaí had also taken Boy A's phone.  On it they found more cause to suspect he was behind Ana’s death.  The phone contained a screenshot of a list of YouTube videos, including “The 15 most gruesome torture methods in history”, “Horror films that will blow everything away” and “Until Dawn – Get Jessica’s clothes off”; Until Dawn seemed to be a reference to a popular horror video game.  There was also a result for Jeff the Killer, a widely shared short story about a teenager who murders his family.  

 

 

An examination of two further phones found in Boy A’s bedroom revealed almost 12,500 images, the vast majority of which were pornographic.  One featured a man in a balaclava looking at a semi-naked woman; another showed a man choke a woman as a second man watched. 

 

 

The phones’ memories showed several pornographic videos had been accessed online, including one with a title referring to a woman called Anastasia.  Another referred to Russian teens.

 

 

Perhaps even more concerning was evidence of searches for child porn”, “horse porn and dead boy prank in abandoned haunted school.

When the trial started, the following year, none of these details of pornography were heard by the jury. 

 

 

Facebook removes content identifying boys found guilty of Ana Kriégel murder

Confirmation comes from Company after it and Twitter ordered to Court over identification of Boy A and Boy B.

Wed, Jun 19, 2019,  The Irish Times.

Eoin Reynolds, Laura Slattery

 

Facebook said as soon as it became aware of content identifying two boys who were found guilty of murdering Ana Kriégel on its platform on Wednesday morning, it removed it.  It said in a statement on Wednesday evening that it also used photo-matching technology in a bid to prevent this content from being shared again.

 

“As soon as we became aware of content identifying Boy A and Boy B being shared on Facebook this morning, we removed this content immediately for violating our Community Standards and local law,” it said in a statement.

  “We also applied our photo-matching technology to prevent this content from being re-shared on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger.  We will continue to remove this content from our platforms,” it added.

 

 

A spokeswoman for Twitter said: “We have an established line of communication with An Garda Síochána and are in direct contact with them on this issue.”

 

 

Their statements came within hours of a judge at the Central Criminal Court ordering representatives of Twitter and Facebook to appear in Court on Thursday.  The order was made after it emerged that social media users had identified the 14-year-old boys despite an order by the trial judge preventing their being named and a provision under the Children Act that prohibits the identification of minors accused of or convicted of a criminal offence.

 

The judge warned it is an offence to publish anything identifying the two boys convicted of Ms Kriégel’s murder and anyone who does so will be “treated in the most serious fashion”Brendan Grehan SC for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on Wednesday raised a concern with Mr Justice Michael White seeking an order for Facebook and Twitter to remove from their platforms any material identifying the boys.

 

 

“Trenchant warning”

Making the order, Mr Justice White issued a “trenchant warning” to any individual who decides to try to identify the boys, saying they will be subject to a contempt of court application and “will be treated in the most serious fashion”.  Mr Grehan said the Court had “unlimited powers” of detention and fine for anyone found in contempt of court.

 

Mr Justice White said the trial was a particularly sensitive one and nobody could be under the illusion that publishing the identities of the accused was not prohibited by the Children Act.  

 

Mr Grehan raised the issue, saying that lawyers for Boy B had contacted the DPP’s office and alerted them to images published on Facebook alongside derogatory comments. 

 

 

Counsel said some of the commentators seemed to be aware that there was an order made to protect the boys’ identities.  Mr Grehan said the individuals who published the photographs could be identified but the images had been shared and it was not yet clear to what extent.  He said it is the DPP’s view that the owners of Facebook and Twitter had a responsibility in respect of the matter and the DPP was seeking an order against those platforms directing them to remove photos or any other material that would identify either of the boys.  The boys, identified in the media only as Boy A and Boy B, were convicted of murdering Ana Kriégel on May 14th last year.  Boy A was also convicted of Ms Kriégel’s aggravated sexual assault in a manner that involved extreme violence.  

 

 

State may examine laws on children accessing porn, after Ana Kriégel trial

Leo Varadkar says Government may review effectiveness of UK online safety measures

Wed, Jun 19, 2019, The Irish Times.

Jennifer Bray

 

Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar said, ‘It is a concern that pornography is so accessible to young people.’

 

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan plans to hold discussions with his British counterpart in relation to new laws introduced in the UK which aim to block children from having access to online pornography.  “I am very keen to look at international best practice to be best informed,” he told The Irish Times, adding that he will pursue the matter with the UK home and justice secretaries.  Under plans due to come into force in the UK next month, an age block will require commercial pornography sites to show that they are taking sufficient steps to verify their users are over 18.  These include uploading a passport or a driving licence.  Mr Flanagan’s comments came after two 14-year-old boys were found guilty of murdering schoolgirl Ana Kriégel.  

 

 

In the Dáil, Labour Party leader, Brendan Howlin, referenced the murder and the new laws due to come into force in the UK. ... It is up to professionals to assess the impact of such material on impressionable children, but we can clearly and unambiguously say that this material should not be accessible to children.”

 

 

‘Effective’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said a review could take place in time to see whether the new UK law is effective.  “The UK law is relatively new, and we do not yet know whether it will be effective,” he said.  “We should learn from other jurisdictions and (Mr Howlin’s) suggestion is appropriate in that regard.”  Mr Varadkar said it was a concern that pornography “is so accessible to young people.  And indeed, so many young people learn about sex through pornography which is not an accurate representation of what is healthy in life”.

 

The Taoiseach pointed out that Minister for Communications, Richard Bruton, is, separately, bringing forward an Online Safety Bill as part a plan to protect children online. 

 

 

It will put new requirements, including an online safety code, on online platforms and prohibit cyberbullying of minors and harmful material such as that which promotes suicide, self-harm, bulimia or anorexia,” he said.  

 

“There will also be an online safety commissioner, who will certify that the codes are fit for purpose and who may have the power to order take-down in certain circumstances.”  

 

A public consultation is currently underway in relation to that Bill and after this process, legislation will be brought to the Oireachtas Committee on Communications.

 

 

Order in Kriégel case appears to treat social media firms like publishers

Facebook and Twitter representatives to appear in court over anonymity breach.

Thu, Jun 20, 2019, The Irish Times.

Laura Slattery

 

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has previously conceded that while Facebook did not ‘produce’ content used on its platform, it was responsible for it.

 

 

The naming of the boys convicted of murdering Ana Kriégel on social media is the latest in what is now a familiar phenomenon of widespread breaches by internet users of court orders prohibiting the identification of certain individuals.  Mr Justice Michael White’s “trenchant warning” to those who try to identify the boys was, on this occasion, backed up with the more unusual move of ordering representatives of Facebook and Twitter to appear in Court on Thursday 20 June 2019.

 

 

The order is significant because it appears to treat the two social media companies in the same way that, for example, a radio station would be treated if a caller was to violate an anonymity order on air and it was unable to prevent this from being broadcast.

 

Silicon Valley’s social media giants have long maintained that they are not publishers, but technology companies.

 

Facebook chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, told a Senate hearing in Washington last year that he viewed Facebook “as a tech company, because the primary thing that we do is build technology and products”.  The definition helps his company avoid regulations that apply to publishers in various jurisdictions.

 

However, Mr Zuckerberg also conceded that while Facebook did not “produce” content, it was responsible for it.  In practice, social media companies have been obliged to accept responsibility on a string of content matters over the years, with Facebook hiring tens of thousands of human moderators to remove harmful and / or unlawful content.

 

 

On some occasions, this content has been seen to proliferate much faster than Facebook, Twitter and other platforms such as Google’s YouTube have taken action or been capable of doing so.

 

 

Photo-Matching Technology

Facebook said it was using photo-matching technology to prevent posts identifying the two boys from being re-shared on its platform, its Messenger service, or on Facebook-owned Instagram.  The social media firm said it had taken down content identifying Boy A and Boy B “as soon as we became aware of it.”  “We removed this content immediately for violating our community standards and local law,” a Facebook spokeswoman said.

 

The view of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), as stated by Brendan Grehan SC in court on Wednesday, that the platforms, and not merely the individuals who use them, have a responsibility in respect of court orders, is likely to be closely watched by legal systems outside the State.

 

 

Kriégel case: Gardaí launch investigation into online identification of Boys

Court hears another boy was wrongly identified as being one of the 14-year-olds.

Thu, Jun 20, 2019, The Irish Times.

Colm Keena

 

Social media companies have been removing images that purport to identify the boys convicted of murdering schoolgirl Ana Kriégel from their platforms.

 

Gardaí have launched an investigation into the circulation of images that claim to show the teenage boys found guilty of the murder of Ana Kriégel.  The images were circulated despite a court order being in place preventing the 14-year-old boys being named and a provision under the Children Act that prohibits the identification of minors accused or convicted of a criminal offence.

 

The Garda team based in Lucan, Co Dublin, that investigated the murder is now investigating whether the social media postings have broken the law.  The inquiry is likely to make use of specialist Garda units and is likely to seek the assistance of Facebook and Twitter in identifying certain account holders, a source told The Irish Times.

 

Earlier on Thursday, the Central Criminal Court was told a boy was wrongfully identified on social media as being one of the 14-year-olds responsible for the murder of Ana Kriégel.

 

Representatives of Twitter and Facebook appeared in Court to answer charges of contempt following the publication of the boys’ pictures.  

 

 

The Court, which had issued a temporary injunction against Facebook and Twitter to prevent the social media companies hosting material that identifies the two convicted boys, heard other children have also been implicated online.  

 

 

Barrister Shelley Horan, representing a school that cannot be identified, also told Mr Justice Michael White a staff member of the school had been targeted, and comments about the trial posted on the school’s Facebook page.

 

The school cannot disable the comments and has to get Facebook to do so.  The page is very important to the school, Ms Horan said.

 

 

‘Hiding’

Damien Colgan SC, for the family of Boy B, said publication of material online that identified him had “forced the family into hiding”, while Andrew McKeown, for the family of Boy A, said some of the tweets posted on Twitter included both the boys’ names and their images.

 

The publication was against a background of a “detritus of threats” against the boys’ families, including an image of the “fate that the user believed needed to be meted out to the two boys,” he said.

 

Rossa Fanning SC, for Facebook Ireland Ltd, and Andrew Fitzpatrick SC, for Twitter International Company, argued it was not practicable for the companies to be ordered to prevent people posting material that identified the two boys.  However, both companies were very anxious to remove such material once it came to their attention.

 

 

Both men said their clients were very respectful of the rule of law and the court process and had taken steps to remove material from their platforms once it had come to their attention.  “There are certain things we can’t do,” Mr Fanning said.  Facebook did not know the names of the two boys.  If someone did post the boys’ names, then the Company would not know that was an identification.  The Company should not be subjected to a prior restraint order that it could not comply with.

 

 

‘Advance Stop’

Mr Fitzpatrick said Twitter “cannot in advance stop what people choose to do on Twitter.”  Brendan Grehan SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said an ex parte application had been made on Wednesday because the boys were being identified on social media and there was a need to act before the material went viral.  Mr Grehan said the DPP wished the injunction order should remain in existence.  

 

“I want some responsibility to be shouldered by the platform providers,” he said. 

 

 

Mr Justice White agreed with a change to the order’s wording that the companies had to remove material that identified the two boys which they became aware of or which was brought to their attention.  

 

 

The matter was put back to July 5th and the order remains in place until then.  Mr Justice White said the main concern was that “some idiots” might identify the boys on social media.  An Garda Síochána should investigate any such incidents with vigour.  The Court did not deal with an application from the DPP that the two technology giants face committal or sequestration orders for allegedly being in contempt of courts.  

 

 

Mr Grehan said the DPP did not accept the view that “all we can do is stand by and shrug our shoulders” while material was posted on the internet that breached court orders.

 

 

 

The whole of Conor Gallagher's account, 

Ana Kriégel murder trial: The complete story

 can be found attached at the end of this Post.  We owe it to Ana Kriégel to learn what kind of young woman she was, her joys, her achievements, and not just as a victim of an horrendous crime.  ICOB.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Ana Kriégel case turns spotlight on how schools deal with bullying

 

Call for clear legislation to compel schools to have disciplinary codes against harassment

 

Thu, Jun 20, 2019, The Irish Times

Carl O'Brien, Education Editor

 

 

Digital technology means bullying can now follow children home

 

 

The bullying of schoolgirl Ana Kriégel has turned a spotlight on how schools handle harassment involving pupils in a world of social media and smartphones.

 

 

The trial of two boys found guilty of her murder heard that Ana was bullied online over a prolonged period, with most of the key incidents happening outside the school.

 

 

The secondary school in question – which cannot be named for legal reasons – has declined to comment.  However, it is understood it advised parents of supports available before, during and after the trial.  It also encouraged parents to contact the school if concerned about their child.

 

 

The Court heard that during the summer after sixth class (the last year of junior school), Ana was bullied online by third-year students who sent her sexually suggestive messages.  Much of the bullying focused on her height.  The bullies also mocked the fact she was adopted, telling her she had a “fake Mam and Dad”.

 

 

Ana’s parents took screenshots of some of the messages and showed them to the school.  At one point it was discovered Ana had set up fake social media accounts which she was using to send bullying messages to herself.

 

 

The bullying was not all online by any means.  The Court heard that Ana came home to her parents terrified after being sexually harassed by a group of four boys.  Her mother told the Court that one boy asked her repeatedly for sex before hitting her on the backside.  A complaint was made to Gardaí and the boy received a caution.

 

Studies indicate that bullying in schools is widespread, with significant numbers of pupils taunted about their weight or appearance.

 

One recent study by Dublin City University sought responses from more than 400 students in three secondary schools in the Dublin area, including an all-girls Catholic school, an all-boys Catholic school and a co-educational community college.  It found that bullying and threats were common with a third of participants reporting that they had been on the receiving end of this type of behaviour.

 

 

Another troubling finding was that only 42 per cent of students in the all-girls school and 21 per cent of students in the all-boys school felt “very safe”.

 

 

Calmly Investigate

The Department of Education and Skills compiled a comprehensive guide for schools to tackle bullying in 2013, and each school is required to have its own policy in place.  Boards of management are required to make this policy available to parents, ideally on the school website or “readily accessible on request”.

 

 

If a school or teacher finds that bullying has occurred, they are advised to contact the parents of all parties and set out the actions the school is taking in accordance with its policy.

 

 

If a child is being bullied, the teacher is first asked to calmly investigate and to try to restore the relationship between the two parties.  Ideally, they should bring the two children together, if the bullied child agrees.  Some education sources, however, say that anti-bullying policies are too often dealt with as peripheral rather than central issues.

 

 

Dr Geoffrey Shannon, the State’s special rapporteur on child protection, says a clear legislative framework should be introduced compelling schools to have a strong disciplinary code for tackling bullying. 

 

Traditionally bullying, he said, stopped when the child left the school yard.  However, digital technology means it can now follow children home, which requires a more collaborative response that involves schools, students and parents.

 

 

The most effective means of preventing bullying may be to adopt a whole-school approach.

 

 

“This would encompass school policies in areas such as anti-bullying initiatives, codes of behaviour and the use of social media as an educational tool, as well as the involvement of parents,” said Dr Shannon.

 

 

“One idea, he said, is that each school should have a designated digital champion to deal with online issues.

 

 

“Education programmes are also vital for children – using role-play or workshops – to boost responsible and empathetic use of social media.”

 

 

He also said there needed to be a partnership approach between parents and schools which involves ensuring that mothers and fathers understand the complexities of the online world.

 

Dr Shannon, who is involved in drafting guidelines on cybercrime – involving cyberbullying and harassment – for the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and the Council of Europe – said Irish laws need to be updated.

 

 

There is Irish legislation pending, he said, which aims to update our laws to deal with cyberbullying and cyber-harassment.

 

 

“We need to ensure our laws are fit for purpose and adequately respond to changes in technology,” he said.

 

 

“The internet is the new child protection frontier.”

 

 

 


 

BEWARE THE LIGHT!!

Image of vivid painting by Dublin Artist, Neil Douglas, at neildouglas09@gmail.com. Courtesy of the Artist.

 

 

 

BEWARE the LIGHT!!

 

 

THE BLUE-VIOLET ELEMENT OF THE LIGHT SPECTRUM

The BLUE-VIOLET LIGHT which helps us wake naturally, and which is responsible for the increased mental activity in daylight hours, especially in Spring and Summer, and which is beneficial in concentrating on work and study, can also cause us problems.   When we awake to dark mornings, with few hours of daylight, we must acknowledge the consequences for our brain activity.  We get most of our  Vitamin D from sunlight, and many people are unaware that they should use a supplement during the dark days.

 

 

 

WORKING LATE WITH A COMPUTER SCREEN

If, on a regular basis, you are staying late at work, college, or school, to work on a computer, or are bringing work home to be done on a personal computer, you are running the risk of upsetting your sleep pattern, causing exhaustion and, possibly, long-term sleep deprivation.

 

 

IT IS NECESSARY to make a conscious effort to blink at speed and at frequent intervals while using a computer, as we actually blink less frequently while looking at a screen.

 

Using an intensive lubricating eye care product, which is both phosphate and preservative-free, is helpful for avoiding dry, itchy eyes. 

 

'Dry eye' is a frequent, itchy, and very irritating result of prolonged computer use, and which can lead to an eye infection, resulting from excessive rubbing and scratching of the eyeball, especially when tired.

 

 

If you bring any kind of computer-based work home, there can be a notion that working surrounded by one's own things, is working in a more relaxed environment and, so, is less stressful.

 

However, we fool ourselves!

 

Some evenings, work is spasmodic due to continual interruptions; sometimes, we get distracted by household chores, and start the work much later than intended.

 

 

IN HOPEFULNESS, we may plan to work for a specific period of time, at the end of which we shall cease, finished or not.  That is never how it works out!   We work hour after hour, with the comfort in the back of the mind that the bed is close by.  Unfortunately, frequently, we realize suddenly it is 2.00am or 3.00am, or later.  Panic stations! - save the work on the computer, brush the teeth, into bed pronto!

 

 

Then, one lies in bed - in the dark and quiet, tossing and turning, growing more frustrated,  the head is racing, and there is no way of relaxing.  This can become distressing if it happens on a regular basis.

 

 

AWAY FROM THE GLARE of the screen, at a minimum, it will take at least ONE FULL HOUR for the synapses in the brain to quieten down sufficiently to be able to relax and, eventually, hopefully, to sleep.

 

 

Getting into such a habit can lead to chronic exhaustion, making one less efficient, and so perpetuating the unhealthy practise.

 

 

This situation, if not dealt with, can lead to a considerable period of time off work, or off school / college, for stress related illnesses, becoming seriously run down, and exhausted due to sleep deprivation.

 

 

THIS HAS BECOME A REALLY SERIOUS PROBLEM FOR MANY PEOPLE, SOME OF WHOM HAVE NOT YET REALISED IT.

 

 


 

 

 

YOUNG PEOPLE, TEENAGERS, YOUNGSTERS,

AND NOTICING HABITS

  

 

No matter what time of year it is, if it's a holiday break, or whatever term the children and young people are in school or college, PGCs must be on the look-out at all times. 

 

 

Many PGCs are surprized that although their students may have been back in the education cycle for quite some time, they still need 'support' and frequent urgings  getting into a good sleep / awake balance, in order that they can get up on time to work to their optimum, and care for their mental and physical health.

 

 

After a Summer spent texting friends, rather than going out to meet up with a group of friends, and never having a real  good, relaxed chat, all together, some young people find being surrounded by classmates, and many other people, surprizingly difficult.

 

 

This problem with interaction can carry on through the whole year and include the Summer and Christmas Breaks if they have been keeping up with long-term online gaming, gambling, meeting new people - sometimes on porn sites, which often starts off by mistake, but are frequently revisited. 

 

All of this blue-light device activity can make actually meeting people face-to-face very difficult.

 

 

All of us who have family living very far away are conscious of how much easier communication is nowadays with Skype, the internet and other platforms, compared to what it was like for families, even twenty years ago.  However, grandparents will still say, although it is lovely to hear the children's voices, and see their faces, it is JUST NOT the same as HUMAN CONTACT.  

And they are right.

 

 

People lose a great deal of the subtleties of communication, when the micro-gestures, and 'tells' are lost while using electronic devices.  We miss the little wince that may indicate a friend is unhappy or worried.  We cannot take someone's hand and ask what's happening.

 

 

People who have got out of the habit of meeting up with friends or visiting family easily and frequently, may find it especially difficult to get back into the situation of being among large groups of people, such as at Christmas or New Year parties, Mid-Term Breaks, Spring Break and Easter Holidays. Summer barbeques.  

 

 

This isolation from one's friends, and the world in general, can happen very quickly, and it is not easy to overcome.

 

  

Some people find going out the front door a HUGE problem, and will change clothes a few times, rearrange sock drawers, anything to avoid going out the door.   All breaks from school / college / university are very good times for PGCs, and the family in general, to pay attention to the social lives, and possible lack of activities, of youngsters, teenagers, and young people in the family.

 

Are they going out to call on friends and family? 

Do they accept invitations readily and happily, looking forward to dressing up and going out?

 

 

Do they think of any excuse not to go out?   

Do they just see a couple of close friends in the bedroom, and never go visiting?

 

At what time of day do they first appear, and do they seem especially tired and bleary-eyed? 

 

PEOPLE ARE VERY SOCIAL ANIMALS.  We are hardwired to gather in groups, and we are tactile. 

 

 

This seemingly anti-social behaviour can be put down to teenage mood swings, but it is much more serious than that.

 

 

If we have not seen friends for a while, we will have missed out on many of the little strengthenings of connections that are constantly renewed when meeting up or visiting. 

 

 

QUITE QUICKLY, we can become nervous of going out, replying only on email, calls, and text, to keep up communications.  These are fine for short term communication ~ but THEY DO NOT fill the gap we need filled by SOCIAL INTERACTION WITH OTHER PEOPLE.

 

 

If young people get into the habit of watching downloads or gaming during school holidays for long periods, getting back into the rhythm of rising on time to get to school / college, can be AN EXTREMELY DIFFICULT problem to overcome.   If they didn't get back into a sleeping regime before starting back, it can be done, but it is not easy. 

 

 

Young people can get VERY cranky as they are trying to work and manage on too little sleep while their proper balance is being sought.

 

 

The brain does not mature until around 25 years, up to 30 years of age.  To develop FULLY, the brain requires good quality, sustained, sleep. 

 

 

This is A Simple Fact We

Cannot Deny,

No Matter How We May Wish To.

 

 

We need to help our students get up on time NOW, even if  already back in study, as they need to get into a sleep / awake balance, so they may be able to get up on time as soon as possible.  This is not going to be easy for anyone in the family.

 

In children and young people, that means nine to ten hours sleep a night.

 

As I have been told by teachers / tutors at all levels, youngsters and young people frequently arrive in school / college / university, take off the coat, sit at the desk AND, promptly fall asleep.

 

 

These children and young people are

seriously sleep-deprived.

 

 

OFTEN, their families are unaware of nighttime activities.  If a young person waits until everyone goes to bed, and then turns on his or her devices, there would not be anyone to see a possible tell-tale light shining from under the bedroom door.

 

 

OFTEN, it only comes to light during breaks from school or college, when they are asleep all day, and awake all night.

 

 

GAMING is very popular, especially with boys and young men.  Once a serious game starts, all notion of time is lostthe game is everything.

 

 

GAMBLING online has become a VERY DANGEROUS habit for many youngsters, and even children.   

 

 

It can become a habit very quickly.   The incorrect date of birth entered, making one seem over 18 or 21 years, depending on the Rules of the online gambling company and local laws, and youngsters are free to gamble.   I have yet to hear of an online gambling company checking back fully to ensure that their new customer is indeed of an age to gamble legally, and is the legal holder of the credit card being used.

 

 

Who is legally responsible for the possibly colossal credit card bills of under-age gamblers?  

 Guess!!

 

 

Young people and down to quite young children, frequently have many electronic devices in their bedrooms.  Young people and teenagers may be watching television, DVDs, YouTube, sports coverage, pornography, downloads, and gaming. 

 

Inadvertently, anyone can find themselves on a sordid sex site.

 

 

Pornography sites are being used much more often by young men, and boys of early to mid teens, on a regular basis - they usually start viewing at 11-12 years of age.

 

 

Young children may be viewing cartoons, frequently as a type of electronic 'bedtime story'; what else are they watching? 

 

 

DO PGCs KNOW just how many hours daily their children spend on their computers or using smart phones?

 

ARE THEY AWARE of the possible serious negative health consequences?

 

 

This isolation and lack of personal interaction can lead to depression.  This can be difficult to recognise, as knowing what came first is difficult to ascertain.  Everything should be done to get a young person to visit his or her GP.

 

 


 

 

 

CHILD CRISIS ARIZONA

Safe Kids, Strong Families

 

 

https://childcrisisaz.org/contact/ |

http://childcrisisaz.org/5-incredible-benefits-of-art-for-kids/

 

 

 

Teen watching TV | Striking the Technology 

 Balance: How Much TV is Too Much?

 

 

A recent study by the American Academy of Paediatrics shows that increasing consumption of digital media by children could be having a negative impact on their development.

 

 

Please see the rest of this article near the end of this Post.

 

 


 

 

CRUCIAL INFORMATION ON THE NEED FOR ADEQUATE SLEEP

 

 

Dark mornings and evenings can be masked by high levels of light in the home.   PGCs need to look to lowering light and sound levels as the evening comes on, from around 4.30-5.00pm, reducing them to side lamps in main family rooms.

 

 

The television may need to be turned off or moved to another room.   A calm, quiet, low-lit, room in which to wind-down after homework and dinner, for catching up on family news, and getting into the best possible frame of mind for a relaxed trip to bed, would of great benefit to all children and young people.  

 

 

It's the best way to prepare for bed for anyone of any age.

   

 

If children and young people don't start feeling tired, and naturally ready for sleep, their body-clocks are thrown awry.

 

 

Darker, quieter, rooms help the natural inclination to sleep.   Sufficient sleep is imperative for children, youngsters, and everyone.

 

CHILDREN DO THEIR GROWING DURING SLEEP, and their bones continue to develop.  It is understood that 90 per cent of BONE GROWTH TAKES PLACE DURING SLEEP

 

 

NINE TO TEN HOURS of good quality,  SUSTAINED, sleep give a child, youngster, teenager, and young person adequate rest.   

 

This is the necessary amount of sleep for both physical and mental well-being.  The human growth hormone is released during this time, resulting in growth spurts.  

 

 

SLEEP IS ESSENTIAL for the body to rest, and adequate rest means better physical growth.

 

SLEEP IS ALSO ESSENTIAL FOR PHYSICAL RECUPERATION, the development of the: 

immune system; 

brain development;

learning;

memory,

and information processing; 

As well as many other systems of the brain and the body. 

 

THIS APPLIES TO EVERYONE, from a child to an older person.

 

 


 

 

 

DIFFICULT PRESSURES ON PGCs

 

Breaks from school or college are frequently the times when PGCs realise they are living with a creature who does not come out of the bedroom in daylight hours, except for raids on the 'fridge. 

 

They realise that this is more than just a teenager needing lots of sleep.

 

IT IS UNDERSTANDABLE that even when PGCs realize the consequences of their children's late and prolonged use of electronic devices, they have a problem facing up to the glaringly OBVIOUS SOLUTION.

 

 

ONCE IT IS DISCOVERED that a young person is over-using electronic devices to the detriment of his / her mental and physical health, relationships and friendships, and his or her wake / sleep balance, something must be done.  

 

 

If the transition to sleeping nine to ten hours nightly is not made in the last weeks of holidays, young people may still be finding it difficult to manage study and other activities.

   

 

It may take longer than anyone expects to break the habit of being awake a good deal of the night with electronic devices, and sleeping through most of the following day.

 

 

PGCs might have to make some very

unwelcome and drastic decisions

which may cause serious friction,

in the short to mid-term. 

 

 

PERHAPS, having conversations with the PGCs of your children's close friends, to discuss the problem, to try to present a united front, giving PGCs mutual support would be useful.   PLUS, the youngsters will see it is not just their  parents BEING REALLY MEAN!

 

 

START BY EXPLAINING calmly that this is a HEALTH and MENTAL WELFARE matter, you are not trying to ruin the youngster's life, FOREVER!

 

 

SHOW THEM THE FACTS - DO YOUR RESEARCH

[START your RESEARCH with the details of and Links for Studies on the deleterious mental and physical health consequences of over-use and late night use of blue-light emitting electronic devices.  Please see the last Sections of this Post for more details of some Studies, which can be the basis of your explanations and descriptions.

 

It HAS to be better to SHARE information than to seem to be forcing youngsters etc, to listen to a lecture.]

 

 


 

 

A television in a common room, should not be turned on as younger children come in from early childhood education, or as older siblings arrive home from school or college.   Making sure the television is not on, and turning it off if turned on, is one very important, simple, way to start making sure your offspring are not over-loaded with blue-violet light emissions.

 

 

It enables conversations on how the day has gone, when not competing with the noise and distraction of a television.

 

Mobiles / cell phones should be banned from the table, be they for work or study. 

 

They should be turned off, or left in another room.

 

 

For their welfare's sake, teenagers and younger, SHOULD NOT have a television iPad, smart phone, Kindle, Tablet, or any type of mobile / cell phone on in their bedrooms, after approximately 7.30 - 9.00pm, depending on age.  

 

 

There are Rules under the The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), (those under 18 years of age), entitling young people to degrees of autonomy.   Currently, there is a discussion on how much right a parent has to take a mobile / cell phone from a teenager.   The discussion is usually based around the idea that those of 15-16 years are entitled to the use and possession of their mobile / cell phone at any time.  There are arguments in some countries that young people of 13 years are equally entitled.

 

 

I know the reaction from youngsters and teenagers may be VERY LOUD, and VERY, VERY, UNHAPPY

 

 

NO PARENT WANTS TO BE A BADDIE, and the children / youngsters WILL ARGUE OVER AND OVER, that ALL THEIR FRIENDS are allowed to have all these devices in their bedrooms, night and day.

 

 

However, Difficult Choices Require to be Made Now!

 

 

Studying on a laptop in the relative quiet of a bedroom, but preferably in a common room in the house, is a good habit, but only in conjunction with reference to actual books, real dictionaries, thesauruses, and the deep reading of novels, sciences, poetry, sci-fi, histories, biographies. 

 

We must encourage and retain our own intellectual 'omnivorism'.  Adults have to show the way.

 

 

All electronic devices shall have to be removed from the bedrooms at 7.00 pm to 9.30 pm, depending on the ages of the children and young people, at the discretion of the PGCs.

 

 

Having finished study / work, EVERYONE in the family WILL  HAVE TO turn their computers off at least 90 minutes before bedtime. 

 

 

It's good for the younger ones to know the adults are sticking by the same rule.

 

 

Apart from saving the work, the younger ones shall then need to BRING ALL DEVICES down to a common room where they can be checked off, TO ENSURE ALL DEVICES ARE ACCOUNTED FOR, while bearing in mind the rights of young people.

 

 

GENERALLY SPEAKING, most young people get a limited number of chances for primary and second level schooling.  If they are chronically exhausted due to inappropriate and overuse of electronic devices, THEIR PERFORMANCE IN SCHOOL WILL SUFFER negatively and significantly.

 

*       Eighty-five per cent of parents of young children (aged less than 6 years) said they used screen-based devices to occupy their kids so they could get things done with one in four doing this every day of the week.

 

   Teenagers spend the most time on a screen-based device at home, of any age group, at almost 44 hours on average per week – more than the time equivalent of a full time job.  Parents averaged almost 40 hours per week. ++

 

"Not only was educational performance hindered.  Important social skills were also diminished", says Lynette Vernon, lead researcher of this study at Murdoch University in Perth:

 

"The outcomes of not coping – lower self-esteem, feeling moody, externalising behaviours and less self-regulation, aggressive and delinquent behaviours – the levels increase as sleep problems increased." * *

 

See this Study in full below. 

 

 


 

 

We Have to Take Seriously the Well-Documented Difficulties Students Encounter in these Circumstances

 

 

YOUNG PEOPLE DO NOT  reach their optimum potential at second level schooling, and this has consequences for the possibility of winning a place in a college or university, or following whatever dreams they have. 

 

 

THERE ARE NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS for young people of becoming ISOLATED from a social life, if they spend a great deal of their spare time online gaming, gambling, watching or engaging in pornography, or on X-Box.

 

 

VERY IMPORTANT - Children and young people NEED three hours of physical activity daily for fitness sake, and also for psychological well-being. 

 

 

Children are less physically active now than ever before.

 

 


  

 

'Our minds can be hijacked' :

the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia.

 

 

Please see this The Guardian report by Paul Lewis in the last Section of this Post.

 

 

"There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called continuous partial attention, severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ."

 

 

The industry insiders who often designed the software, are restricting their own use of smartphones, etc. 

 

 

See more below ...

 

 


 

Health Problems & Screen Use in Young Children & Older Ones

Image of vivid painting by Dublin Artist, Neil Douglas, at neildouglas09@gmail.com. Courtesy of the Artist.

 

 

Decline in Teen Mental Health Attributed to Late Night Stimulation **

 

By Dr Ramesh Manocha

 

The neurological dangers implicated in overusing our devices are well-established.   From the incessant cognitive itching to allay novelty bias to a consistent uptick in distracted driving accidents and deaths to the circadian chaos of excessive blue light, our memory and attention are not the only skills being affected.   While no long-term studies have traced these issues from childhood through adulthood – yet - one simple fact is inarguable: too much screen time is not healthy.

 

 

Now a longitudinal study of over eleven hundred high school students in Australia has revealed another disturbing aspect of technology addictiona decline in mental health.

 

 

Poor sleep due to late-night calling and texting is the culprit.  The group of thirteen to sixteen year-olds saw a stark decrease in performance over a four-year period, from 2010-2013.  While previous research has linked the blue light emitted from phones to poor sleep, and sleep is necessary for optimal health and emotional regulation, this Study is considered the first to link all three, even though anecdotally teachers have noticed increasing sluggishness in their students for years.

 

 

"Not only was educational performance hindered.  Important social skills were also diminished", says Lynette Vernon, lead researcher of this study at Murdoch University in Perth:

The outcomes of not coping – lower self-esteem, feeling moody, externalising behaviours and less self-regulation, aggressive and delinquent behaviours – the levels increase as sleep problems increased.

 

 

It’s not only the light affecting students, Vernon observes.  Cognitive arousal when receiving a text or social media like also keeps the receiver primed for further reaction at a time when their body and mind should be winding downInstead of drifting to sleep their brain remains on alert for the next ding.

 

- Derek Beres

 

 

[The colouring, highlighting and underlining of text were added by me, ICOB.]

 

 

A download from 'Generation Next'.

Read More: Decline in Teen Mental Health Attributed to Late Night Stimulation

Dr Ramesh Manocha | July 10, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Tags: late night texting 

Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/p2buvd-5wE

 

 

 


 

 

 

SCREEN TIME: WHAT'S HAPPENING IN OUR HOMES?

 

The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne,

Australian Child Health Poll of 21 June 2017.

 

https://www.childhealthpoll.org.au/polls/screen-time-whats-happening-in-our-homes/

 

 

KEY FINDINGS

The Director of the Australian Child Health Poll, Paediatrician, Dr Anthea Rhodes, said one of the most significant findings, that directly affected children’s health, was the impact of screen use at bedtime on sleep.

 

 

Almost half of children regularly use screen-based devices at bedtime, with one in four children reporting associated sleep problems.  Teenagers using screens routinely at bedtime were also more likely to report experiencing online bullying.   It’s best to have no screen-time an hour before bed and keep screens out of the bedroom, to ensure a better quality of sleep,” she said.

 

 

"The poll also reveals that 50 per cent of toddlers and preschoolers are using a screen-based device without supervision.

 

 

“The demands of the modern lifestyle mean a lot of parents are busy, so they use screen use as a digital babysitter.   We found that 85 per cent of parents of young children say they use screens to occupy their kids so they can get things done.”  Dr Rhodes said.

 

 

“There is little evidence to support the idea that screen use benefits the development of infants and toddlers, but physical playtime and face-to-face contact is proven to be critical to a child’s development.  If you do offer screen time to your young child, it’s better if you watch it with them, so you can talk together about what they are seeing and help children to learn from the experience.”

 

 

"When it comes to what’s happening in Australian households, Dr Rhodes said that many families are experiencing conflict over screen use and that a lack of physical activity and excessive use are big concerns to parents.

 

 

"Dr Rhodes adds that the poll identified a link between parents’ screen use and their children’s use of screens.

 

 

“A strong relationship was seen between parents’ screen use and that of their children.  Basically, a parent who has high levels of screen use is more likely to have a child with high levels of use.  Three-quarters of parents of children under six also said they do not put time limits on screen use.

 

 

"However, most parents told us that they do try to limit their children’s screen use but are not sure how to do this effectively,” she said.

 

 

"The current Australian guidelines for screen use in children were last updated in 2014, but Dr Rhodes says new guidelines may go some way in helping parents with their children’s screen use.

 

 

“These were developed before the widespread use of mobile screen devices.  Up-to-date guidelines and resources for parents, and healthcare workers, would give parents a base for developing healthy habits when it comes to screen use,” she said.

 

 

++  The Australian Child Health Poll overall key findings include the following.

 

 

  The majority of Australian children, across all age groups, are exceeding the current national recommended guidelines for screen time.

 

*      Eighty-five per cent of parents of young children (aged less than 6 years) said they used screen-based devices to occupy their kids so they could get things done with one in four doing this every day of the week.

 

*    Teenagers spend the most amount of time on a screen-based device at home, of any age group, at almost 44 hours on average per week – more than the time equivalent of a full time job.   Parents averaged almost 40 hours per week.

 

*   Younger children also spend a significant time using screens at home; infants and toddlers averaged 14 hours, the two to five year-olds 26 hours, and the six to 12-year age group averaged 32 hours per week.

 

Note:  "A screen-based device in this poll was defined as a television, computer, laptop, gaming console, iPhone, smartphone, iPad and other tablet." "

 

 

 

[The colouring and highlighting of text were added by me, ICOB.]

 

 


 

 

CHILD CRISIS ARIZONA

Safe Kids, Strong Families

 

https://childcrisisaz.org/contact/ 

http://childcrisisaz.org/5-incredible-benefits-of-art-for-kids/

 

 

Teen watching TV | Striking the Technology

Balance: How Much TV is Too Much?

 

 

A recent study by the American Academy of Paediatrics shows that increasing consumption of digital media by children could be having a negative impact on their development.

 

 

How much TV is too much?

"These days, technology is hard to avoid.   Smartphones have made it so that a full library of videos, games and other digital content is available for use anytime, anywhere at the flick of a finger.   The pervasiveness of the Internet, TV, computer and video games in our daily lives also means that technology is competing for our children’s attention at younger and younger ages.   In the United States, the average infant starts watching TV at only 5 months old and 82% of children will go online before they enter the 7th grade.

 

 

"While technology can be a powerful learning tool for children, when used in excess it can actually have a negative impact on a child’s development.   Multiple studies have shown that infants exposed to two or more hours of screen time before their first birthday makes them six times more likely to experience poor language development.

 

 

"Studies have also linked excessive television watching in children with a higher likelihood developing cognitive and social / emotional delays, obesity, and sleep disorders."

 

 

Children using a phone unsupervised

"This isn’t to say that parents should get rid of their TVs, smart phones and tablets.  Well-constructed educational programming or apps can be great learning aids for young children.   'Sesame Street', for example, has been shown to have a positive impact on the cognitive, literary and social development of 3- to 5-year-olds.  The real challenge for parents is to find programming that truly is useful and educational, and also to strike just the right balance of screen time for their child.  Knowing where to draw that line isn’t always easy, but parents can start to find that balance by being more mindful of the kind / quantity of digital media their child(ren) is exposed to and coming up with a family media plan that dictates when and how technology will be used at home."

 

 

['Sesame Street' was made many years ago.  Is it not telling that a more recent example of a television programme 'that truly is useful and educational' was not given?   Programmes like 'Sesame Street' are not made any more.   I believe its speed and rythym would be considered too slow by a modern programme commissioning editor.   Those are exactly what made it revolutionary in its day, and still perfect for young children.   ICOB.]

 

 


 

 

Here are FIVE things to consider when you are coming up with a Media Plan for your FAMILY

 

 

"Get involved, stay Involved      Whenever possible, try not to let your child spend their screen time alone.  Watch an episode of your child’s favourite programme with them or play with apps together.  Engaging with your child about the media they consume will help them better understand what they are seeing and learning, and how that applies to the world around them.

 

"Be Picky      Always make sure that you are choosing the highest-quality educational programming possible.   Closely monitor the content your child(ren) is / are consuming and be sure to thoroughly test / research apps before you allow your kid(s) to download them!

 

"Set Limits     According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, you should avoid using digital media with children 18-24 months old.   For children aged 2 to 5, the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends limiting screen time to 1 hour per day.

 

"Power Down      Always turn off all devices at least ONE hour before bedtime to help your child “wind down” before sleep.    Turn off the auto-play setting on your video players (Netflix, Hulu, etc) to prevent mindless “binge-watching”.   When you’ve finished using your devices get into the habit of turning them off completely and putting them away.

 

"Emphasize Family Time      Designate certain times or activities as “device free” and use that time to connect as a family.   For example, make a rule that no devices can be used during family dinners, etc."

 

 

[The colouring, highlighting, and underlining of text were added by me, ICOB.]

 


 

GARDA ADVICE & PUBLIC OUTRAGE

 

 

GARDA ADVICE AFTER THE HORAN TRIAL

 

Outside the court, Det Supt Declan Daly said this case was a “timely reminder of the dangers that can occur on the internet and the need for parents to be vigilant of their children’s internet use”.

 

 

‘Exceptionally dangerous’

He said it was “exceptionally dangerous” for children to share images online, and that children should never agree to meet any person they encountered via the internet.

 

 

He said if images have been shared already, Gardaí­ recommend that children should not share any more images, stop all communication and tell a parent or appropriate adult.

 

 

“They should preserve the evidence and not delete anything, and they should report the matter to gardaí,” he said.

 

 


 

 

Gardaí WARN CHILDREN OF EXCEPTIONAL

DANGER OF SHARING ONLINE

 

 

Photograph: Mark Steadman/Rollingnews.ie

 

 

Gardaí have issued a strong warning to parents and children about dangers that can face them on the internet. 

 

 
 
 

Gardaí [An Garda Síochána - the National Police Force of the Republic of Ireland] involved in the Matthew Horan investigation have issued a strong warning to parents and children about dangers that can face them on the internet.

 

 

Speaking to the media outside the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin, Det Supt Declan Daly of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau said, “Today serves as a timely reminder of the potential dangers that can occur on the internet.

 

“It also serves as a reminder for us all of the need for parents in particular to be vigilant of the internet use regarding their children” and serves “as a reminder for children themselves to be aware of the dangers that are on the internet.”

 

 

Flanked by colleague Det Garda David Connolly, and Det Sgt Maeve O’Sullivan of the Clondalkin Division of the Protective Services Unit, he repeated what he described as “the Garda’s key message on internet safety for children”.

 

 

 This emphasised that it is exceptionally dangerous to share images online.  “It is very, very dangerous and children should never arrange or agree to meet any person on the internet.”

 

 

If images were shared or if an approach is made on the internet to children, Gardaí recommended, “Firstly, what they should do is not share any more images.  They should stop all communication.  They should tell a parent or an appropriate adult.  They should preserve the evidence and not delete anything, and they should report the matter to An Garda Síochána,” he said.

 

 

Families, he said, “can go through a significant amount of stress and pain when images are shared online and we’d like to prevent that happening any further families.”

 

 

He commended all gardaí involved in the investigation, “in particular the gardaí attached to Clondalkin Detective Service Units, for their good and diligent work on this difficult case.

 

 

“I would also like to thank the victims and their families in this case and in other cases who have taken the brave step forward and given us valuable assistance, because without their assistance it certainly would be very, very difficult to get such results as we’ve had today,” he said.

 

 

[All text in italics is copied from the Irish Times online Articles.  The colouring of text and headings were added by me.]

 

 


 

 

 

Public Fury Over Online Abuse Must Push Big Tech to Act

 

Is proposed Digital Safety Commissioner role merely manoeuvring on a hot-topic issue?

 

 

 

 

Parents already feel outpaced by their children’s ability to use the internet, and are worried by regular media reports of cyberbullying.   

File photograph: iStockPhoto

 

 

Minister for Communications Denis Naughten’s statement of intent to appoint a Digital Safety Commissioner – a new statutory role which would involve monitoring and enforcing child online safety – would, in light of current events, appear timely.

 

 

Parents clearly already feel outpaced by their children’s ability to use the internet, and are worried by regular media reports of cyberbullying.

 

 

PGCs had to endure hearing deeply disturbing evidence of predatory online exploitation as Matthew Horan (26) and other paedophiles found guilty to using online platforms – Skype, Snapchat, Kik and Instagram – to approach and groom minors.

 

 

Appalling Case

As the appalling case dominated news cycles, and politicians and pundits argued over whether Ireland’s formal digital age of consent (the age from which it is legal for data controllers to hold data gathered from minors) was too low at 13, many individuals and organisations, including Grainne Long, chief executive of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), came out in support of Naughten’s proposal.

 

 

The idea for the digital safety role was first floated in a 2016 report from the Law Reform Commission on Harmful Communications and Digital Safety.   With revenge porn and online bullying much in the news, the Report’s focus was broadly on harmful communications and internet safety for adults, as well as children.

 

 

 

 

The proposed Irish role could be modelled on positions created in New Zealand and Australia, according to Naughten.  Australia’s eSafety Commissioner was appointed in 2015, investigates complaints and can fine online operators up to AUS$17,000 (€11,000) per day for failing to comply with its demands.

 

 

 

 

 

At the time, the Australian position was vociferously opposed by internet companies, which expressed alarm that a single person effectively could act as an online content censor, judge and jury.

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

ePrivacy Legislation

With the ability to judge content, and issue and enforce content-takedown notices to internet and telecommunications companies, the Commissioner could come into conflict with the EU eCommerce Directive, notes Harrington.   Other legal experts said the position might also run afoul of incoming ePrivacy legislation, or overlap into the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s (DPC) role.

 

 

However, a spokesperson for the office of the DPC said that insofar as the role has been discussed, the DPC would not see any conflict because each role would have a different focus.

 

 

But is such an Office actually needed, or merely political manoeuvring on an issue likely to gain voter support?

 

 

Certainly, little has been done since the Office was initially proposed 18 months ago.  And some formal submissions to the Law Reform Commission argued at the time that a specialist body with statutory powers was not needed, because existing laws and the courts could and should handle such cases.

 

 

In a submission, Digital Rights Ireland (DRI) wrote that ~

“cyber-harassment and other harmful cyber activity affecting personal safety, privacy and reputation do not require, for their resolution, any specialist technical expertise.   These are offences against the safety, privacy and reputation of the individual, as capable of being carried out online as off.   Accordingly, the only appropriate expert body to adjudicate such claims is a court of law.”

 

 

 

 

Both the DRI submission in 2016, and Harrington in his blog post this week, also question whether Ireland’s reputation as a good location for business might suffer, were a new layer of Irish internet and communications regulation to be imposed.

 

 

Close to Meaningless

Yet internet and technology companies must certainly do better.  A London School of Economics professor, working with a board member for the UK Council for Child Internet Safetylast year found Instagram’s age controls to be close to meaningless.

 

 

Still, companies are aware of growing public opprobrium, and many aim to improve services.  Microsoft, which owns message and telephony service Skype, said the companies have worked towards better online safety for many years.

 

 

Skype and Microsoft have a strong commitment to helping children stay safe online, and we continue to collaborate with advocates, industry partners and governments worldwide to develop solutions and promote effective public policy,” Microsoft said in a statement.

 

 

Would a Digital Safety Commissioner accelerate improvements and set a rigorous example of enforcement, though?   If the Australian office serves as any indication of the need for such a role, the eSafety Commissioner there received nearly 12,000 complaints in its first 12 months of operation – but hadn’t fined anybody.

 

 

 

[All underlining and colouring of text and headlines were added by me, ICOB.]

 


 

What do Software Designers do to Protect their Own Children?

Image of vivid painting by Dublin Artist, Neil Douglas, at neildouglas09@gmail.com. Courtesy of the Artist.

 

 

WHAT DO SOFTWARE DESIGNERS DO TO PROTECT THEIR OWN CHILDREN?

 

 

 

'Our minds can be hijacked', 

 

 

The Guardian article by Paul Lewis.

  

'Our minds can be hijacked': the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia.

 

 

By Paul Lewis in San Francisco

 

The Guardian, Weekend magazine technology special

Friday 6 October 2017 06.00 BST

Last modified on Monday 9 October 2017 20.23 BST

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/05/smartphone-addiction-silicon-valley-dystopia

 

 

Google, Twitter and Facebook  workers who helped make technology so addictive are disconnecting themselves from the internet.   Paul Lewis reports on the Silicon Valley refuseniks alarmed by a race for human attention.

 

 

"Justin Rosenstein had tweaked his laptop’s operating system to block Reddit, banned himself from Snapchat, which he compares to heroin, and imposed limits on his use of Facebook.    But even that wasn’t enough.    In August, the 34-year-old tech executive took a more radical step to restrict his use of social media and other addictive technologies.

 

 

"Rosenstein purchased a new iPhone and instructed his assistant to set up a parental-control feature to prevent him from downloading any apps.

 

 

"He was particularly aware of the allure of Facebook “likes”, which he describes as “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure” that can be as hollow as they are seductive.   And Rosenstein should know: he was the Facebook engineer who created the “like” button in the first place.

 

 

"A decade after he stayed up all night coding a prototype of what was then called an “awesome” button, Rosenstein belongs to a small but growing band of Silicon Valley heretics who complain about the rise of the so-called “attention economy”: an internet shaped around the demands of an advertising economy.

 

 

"These refuseniks are rarely founders or chief executives, who have little incentive to deviate from the mantra that their companies are making the world a better place.   Instead, they tend to have worked a rung or two down the corporate ladder: designers, engineers and product managers who, like Rosenstein, several years ago put in place the building blocks of a digital world from which they are now trying to disentangle themselves.   “It is very common,” Rosenstein says, “for humans to develop things with the best of intentions and for them to have unintended, negative consequences.”

 

 

"Rosenstein, who also helped create Gchat during a stint at Google, and now leads a San Francisco-based company that improves office productivity, appears most concerned about the psychological effects on people who, research shows, touch, swipe or tap their phone 2,617 times a day.

 

 

"There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called “continuous partial attention”, severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ.    

 

 

One recent study showed that the mere presence of smartphones damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off.    “Everyone is distracted,” Rosenstein says.   “All of the time.”

 

 

"But those concerns are trivial compared with the devastating impact upon the political system that some of Rosenstein’s peers believe can be attributed to the rise of social media and the attention-based market that drives it.

 

 

"Drawing a straight line between addiction to social media and political earthquakes like Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, they contend that digital forces have completely upended the political system and, left unchecked, could even render democracy as we know it obsolete.

 

 

"In 2007, Rosenstein was one of a small group of Facebook employees who decided to create a path of least resistance – a single click – to “send little bits of positivity” across the platform.  Facebook’s “like” feature was, Rosenstein says, “wildly” successful: engagement soared as people enjoyed the short-term boost they got from giving or receiving social affirmation, while Facebook harvested valuable data about the preferences of users that could be sold to advertisers.    The idea was soon copied by Twitter, with its heart-shaped “likes” (previously star-shaped “favourites”), Instagram, and countless other apps and websites.

 

 

"It was Rosenstein’s colleague, Leah Pearlman, then a product manager at Facebook and on the team that created the Facebook “like”, who announced the feature in a 2009 blogpost.   Now 35 and an illustrator, Pearlman confirmed via email that she, too, has grown disaffected with Facebook “likes” and other addictive feedback loops.  She has installed a web browser plug-in to eradicate her Facebook news feed, and hired a social media manager to monitor her Facebook page so that she doesn’t have to.

 

 

"Justin Rosenstein, the former Google and Facebook engineer who helped build the ‘like’ button:  'Everyone is distracted. All of the time.’

 

 

" “One reason I think it is particularly important for us to talk about this now is that we may be the last generation that can remember life before,” Rosenstein says.   It may or may not be relevant that Rosenstein, Pearlman, and most of the tech insiders questioning today’s attention economy are in their 30s, members of the last generation that can remember a world in which telephones were plugged into walls.

 

 

"It is revealing that  many of these younger technologists are weaning themselves off their own products, sending their children to elite Silicon Valley schools where iPhones, iPads and even laptops are banned.    They appear to be abiding by a Biggie Smalls lyric from their own youth about the perils of dealing crack cocaine: never get high on your own supply.

 

 

"One morning in April this year, designers, programmers and tech entrepreneurs from across the world gathered at a conference centre on the shore of the San Francisco Bay.  They had each paid up to $1,700 to learn how to manipulate people into habitual use of their products, on a course curated by conference organiser Nir Eyal.

 

 

"Eyal, 39, the author of 'Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products', has spent several years consulting for the tech industry, teaching techniques he developed by closely studying how the Silicon Valley giants operate.

 

 

“The technologies we use have turned into compulsions, if not full-fledged addictions,” Eyal writes.  “It’s the impulse to check a message notification.  It’s the pull to visit YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter for just a few minutes, only to find yourself still tapping and scrolling an hour later.”    None of this is an accident, he writes.   It is all “just as their designers intended”.

 

 

"He explains the subtle psychological tricks that can be used to make people develop habits, such as varying the rewards people receive to create “a craving”, or exploiting negative emotions that can act as “triggers”.    “Feelings of boredom, loneliness, frustration, confusion and indecisiveness often instigate a slight pain or irritation and prompt an almost instantaneous and often mindless action to quell the negative sensation,” Eyal writes.

 

 

"Attendees of the 2017 Habit Summit might have been surprised when Eyal walked on stage to announce that this year’s keynote speech was about “something a little different”.    He wanted to address the growing concern that technological manipulation was somehow harmful or immoral.    

 

"He told his audience that they should be careful not to abuse persuasive design, and wary of crossing a line into coercion.

 

 

"But he was defensive of the techniques he teaches, and dismissive of those who compare tech addiction to drugs.  “We’re not freebasing Facebook and injecting Instagram here,” he said.   He flashed up a slide of a shelf filled with sugary baked goods.   “Just as we shouldn’t blame the baker for making such delicious treats, we can’t blame tech makers for making their products so good we want to use them,” he said.   “Of course that’s what tech companies will do.   And frankly: do we want it any other way?”

 

 

"Without irony, Eyal finished his talk with some personal tips for resisting the lure of technology.    He told his audience he uses a Chrome extension, called DF YouTube, “which scrubs out a lot of those external triggers” he writes about in his book, and recommended an app called Pocket Points that “rewards you for staying off your phone when you need to focus”."

 

 

[Colouring, highlighting, underlining, and italics in the text were added by me, ICOB.]

 

 


 

GAMBLING, VIDEO GAMES AND BRAIN DAMAGE

 Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_gurb'>gurb / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

 

 

VIDEO GAME ADDICTION AND BRAIN DAMAGE

 

GAMBLING

 

 

The piece below draws hugely on the article by Dr Dennis Coates, 'Video Game Addiction and Brain Damage'. 

 

https://drdennycoates.com/video-game-addiction-brain-damage/

 

 

Dr Coates works in the fields of Adolescence, Critical-Thinking, Health & Nutrition, Self-Esteem, and Teen Culture.  His website, https://drdennycoates.com/, is very accessible and an interesting read.

 

Video games are an enormous part of youth culture now and the business has a greater income than the film industry.

 

 

The gaming companies invest huge sums in advertising their products, paying for high profile endorsements, and especially in making them addictive - so that once one game is over, another is needed NOW!

 

Particularing worry to me are the first person (FP) shooter games Well after the game has finished, the player is still ramped up on adrenalin and cortisol, retaining the feelings of violence and destruction, but without a suitable recipient.  This excess of hormones can lead to sudden, totally unforeseen, episodes of violence or aggressive language or behaviour.   Read through the list below of over-production of brain hormones in someone who over-uses video games. 

 

These are literally destructive in excessive and sustained quantities.

 

 

My own studies based on over-use of laptops, computers, Smartphone, iPads, Tablets, and the like, show similar tendencies of withdrawal from friendships and family, isolation, and possibly a touch of paranoia.  The significant loss of sleep is a serious detriment to any young child or teenager.  There are definite risks of brain development restriction, and physical development can be stunted.

 

 

Dr Coates's points follow.

 

In moderation, they have benefits for a young person:

  • The games are fun, engaging, and exciting
  • Players strive to prevail against challenges and achieve goals
  • They can be a hero in the virtual world of the game
  • The sense of accomplishment can boost self-esteem
  • They can play the games with their friends
  • Some of the games actually promote critical thinking.

 

But as with any other stimulant, too much of a good thing can have damaging consequences.

 

  • Video games are a HUGE industry, much bigger than movies.  For business reasons, the games are designed to be addictive.  Success in a game triggers dopamine, the reward neurotransmitter, making the child want to spend more time gaming.

 

  • Like alcohol, it’s a slippery slope. A fun half-hour can easily turn into an hour. An hour can lead to several hours, even all night or all weekend.

 

  • Virtual reality affects the brain the same as ordinary reality.  Exciting challenges stimulate the production of adrenaline and cortisol.  These natural reactions subside if the event is momentary.  But cortisol build-up in brain cells caused by prolonged stress can kill brain cells in the hippocampus (memory and learning) and prefrontal cortex (the smart part of the brain). 

 

  • Normal development of the prefrontal cortex could be disrupted.

 

  • After hours of simulated combat, because of residual cortisol in the brain, the keyed-up combative mindset continues after putting the game away.

 

  • Opportunity costs are huge.  Time spent in front of a screen is time not spent relating to friends and family, doing homework, helping with chores, learning life skills, getting physical exercise, or enjoying the natural world.  Even sleep and hygiene can be neglected.

 

  • Once addicted, the child will find it almost impossible to give up gaming for healthy, productive, activities.  As problems build in normal life, self-esteem is degraded.

 

  • The most exciting and addictive games are the shooter games.  Minute by minute, hour by hour, a child’s brain is exposed to countless emotionally-charged images of killing people – great for the video game industry, awful for the young gamer.

 

Do you think your child has enough maturity and self-discipline to drink alcohol in moderation?  Of course not.

Do you think your child has enough maturity and self-discipline to play video games in moderation?   Hardly  …

 

 

Moderation is half an hour a day, or maybe an hour if your child is a top student.

 

 

So no, they can’t handle it without your help – your rules, boundaries, monitoring, and consistently enforced consequences – to prevent excessive exposure to gaming screens.

 

 

Fun for the whole family or dangerous addiction?

It may come to you as a surprise that something so much fun and promoted so thoroughly in our culture can be so toxic.

 

Back in the day, cigarettes were promoted to young people.  Everyone thought smoking was cool until research revealed that it caused lung cancer.  The tobacco industry didn’t care; they hired their own scientists to come up with their own research.  Without federal regulations, cigarettes would still be promoted to young people.

 

 

Now, it’s video games.  Playing the right games (educational, strategy and sports games), while avoiding the shooter games, and playing in moderation can be beneficial.  But like the tobacco industry, the gaming industry knows its products are addictive and unhealthy, but they don’t care.

 

 

You may be wondering which games are first-person shooter (FPS) games.  With new games being introduced all the time, the answer changes.  Google top shooter games and click on some of the links.

 

 

Yeah, it’s scary. Violence is scary. Derailed brain development is scary.  Addiction is scary.  Go to YouTube and search on video game addiction".

 

 

This scary aspect of video games is only recently being acknowledged. 

 

 

If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to read the "World Health Organization’s Report on “Gaming Disorder".

 

 


 

 

 

 GAMBLING

 

ABOUT YGAM

I found this piece on the Site, 'Teacher Training and Education', on LinkedIn, introduced by Adrian Sladdin, Director of Education at Young Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM), and gives very helpful information for families which can be found at the address below.    

 

 

If you have any notion, worry, or the least fear one of your youngsters may be in over his or her head,

You need to get a hold on what’s going on, NOW.   

 

 

Check out the British registered charity, the Young Gamblers Education Trust (known as YGAM) - whose aim is quoted as 'with a social purpose to ‘inform, educate and safeguard young people against problematic gambling & social gaming’."

 

This is a topic to which I shall return.

 

 


 

 

ABOUT YGAM

Copyright © 2017 YGAM Innovations.  All rights reserved.

 

The following is edited text copied from the YGAM website  http://www.ygam.org/   

 

YGAM claim is that - We are a UK-registered charity with a social purpose to ‘inform, educate and safeguard young people against problematic gambling & social gaming’.

 

 


 

How to Prepare Children for a World of Fake News

Here is my photograph from the garden. I wonder why so many blossoms come in varying shades of blue.

 

 

HOW TO PREPARE CHILDREN FOR A WORLD OF FAKE NEWS

 

 

When we were children and didn't understand a word we read or couldn't spell one we wanted to use, we were always told to "Look it up in the dictionary!". The word 'dictionary' was understood to include the many volumes of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Roget's Thesaurus, and Webster's Dictionary.  As a young child, I did not sleep well and so took to bringing adult books to bed with me to read through the crack in the door. When I ran out of books, I dragged up volumes of the Encyclopaedia.

 

Studies have shown that words looked up or information researched in a printed book, is retained better and for longer than material gained on a search engine.  I know this to be true from personal experience.

 

 

I believe that we should all start teaching our children the difference between 'stories' from 'fairy' to 'sci-fi' and the 'news', from an early age. We can then pretty swiftly point out that not all the 'news' we hear, see, or read is the truth. Sometimes this can be a result of an error in understanding by the writer or the source of the 'news', sometimes people change the facts of the 'news' to suit their own purposes.

 

Children could be asked to list as many reasons as they can think of for anyone wanting to change the facts of the 'news'.

 

It clicks fairly quickly that people can have devious, mendacious, reasons for changing the facts as presented in the 'news'. From there, it's a fairly clear route to encouraging children and young people to search out reputable sources of information and to double-check by finding a corroborative source.  If our youngsters start questioning everything for its veracity from a young age and only accept a 'fact' as true if corroborated by at least two legitimate sources, they are well on the way to developing questioning, earnest minds, which will stand to them all their lives: though their studies; their jobs; how to read and understand the small print on bank agreements and holiday warranties.

 

 

 

The ideas and information included below are very useful.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 Young people have to be helped develop a critical capacity to discern fact from fiction.

 

 

Thu, Mar 28, 2019, 07:01, The Irish Times

 

Barry O'Rourke

 

 

News production has become more sophisticated and as a consequence, disinformation can be more difficult to detect.

 

 

Do you all know the story of the Three Little Pigs?  No, I mean the real story?  Not that fairy tale we’ve all been conned into believing, but the true version – of how that poor wolf was framed by the fake news agenda.

 

Those clever pigs and their PR team.

 

‘The True Story of the Three Little Pigs’, by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, is a fantastic book that lets children learn about perspective, bias and verification.  The wolf, who is now behind bars in prison, offers a different side to one of the world’s best known stories.  He feels the news media weren’t excited by the innocent truth at all, and so they made him out to be a monster, something children have great fun in debating when presented with all the facts.

 

 

He explains that all he wanted was a cup of sugar from his neighbours, the pigs, to bake Granny Wolf a birthday cake.

 

 

But what about all his huffing and puffing?

 

It was sneezing; he had a cold after all.  Of course, those pigs really should have built better houses anyway.

 

It’s a simple question through a story lesson, and one that adults can think about too – how do we know what we know?

 

Where did the information come from, and does this even matter?

 

So did everyone fall for the pigs’ fake news agenda?

 

 

Children Need Media Literacy Skills

Children consume news every day, from learning at school to hearing the latest in music, film, gaming and sport.

 

 

 

 

And they are creators of news too.  Anyone who has a social media profile can create news.

 

 

With this in mind, it is important children can navigate around the internet safely.  Not to be scaremongering, but if a tweet can go viral around the globe in under one minute, it’s time we equip children on understanding the where, what and why of information more seriously.

 

 

Developing media literacy skills is necessary if children are to better understand the media around them. It is important children build up their own sense of asking questions that empowers them to make good decisions on information.

 

So how best do we do teach this?

 

And at this rate, would you even believe me if I told you?

 

 

The Internet has Changed the Playing Field

Ricardo Castellini da Silva is a PhD candidate and researcher at FuJo, the Institute for Future Media and Journalism.  His work investigates the many ways in which new digital media technologies can be used to promote media literacy for schoolchildren.

 

 

While there has always been disinformation in the world, technology has certainly changed the playing field, Castellini feels.  “The difference now is that the advent of the internet created a completely different situation in terms of how information and news are produced and consumed in our societies.”

 

 

“Whereas before the production and distribution of news were in the hands of just a few powerful people, nowadays virtually anyone can create and spread fake stories on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, or multiplatform messaging services, such as WhatsApp.”

 

 

News production has become more sophisticated and as a consequence, disinformation can be more difficult to detect, which Castellini says “poses a serious threat to people’s capacity to make sense of the reality around them”.

 

 

Can this Affect Children?

“A recent study by the Stanford History Education Group showed that students – middle school, high school and college – were very bad at distinguishing between fake and true information online,” Castellini says.  “In relation to children this is even more problematic because they are in different developmental stages compared to older students, and thus it is more difficult for them – or even impossible, depending on the age group – to acquire the critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate the information they consume.  Another challenge is that the people responsible for preparing the children to fight disinformation – mainly parents and teachers – don’t know exactly how to do that.”

 

 

Castellini says that even within academia, screen time, monitoring the use of the internet and the best tools to use in avoiding disinformation, are still subject to debate.  “New media is a recent field of studies and for this reason it is understandable that academics and researchers are still working on the answers.”  He says there is a general feeling the problem is “completely out of control, and for this reason we need to work hard and fast in order to find solutions for it”.

 

 

So What can Parents and Teachers Do?

“The first thing is that parents and teachers should start speaking openly with children about fake news,” Castellini says.  “The idea that there are people creating fake stories out there and that this can cause serious harm to anyone should be openly discussed.

 

 

“Children are not allowed to be on Facebook until they are 13, and the vast majority of them have no interest in Twitter whatsoever.

 

 

Of course we know that some children end up having a Facebook account before they turn 13, sometimes tightly controlled by their parents, sometimes not.  But in theory they tend to be less exposed to social media’s fake news.  However, children use Google, and the search platform can also be a big source of fake news.

 

 

“Parents and teachers can learn how to use the many searching tools available on Google – such as filters, search operators etc – and pass this information on to children, so that their research skills can be improved, which is a good first step towards fighting disinformation when they get older.”

 

 

 

What is Fake about Fake News?   Disinformation!

Dr Eileen Culloty is a post-doctoral researcher at FuJo, who along with Dr Jane Suiter, is working on a Horizon 2020 project funded by the European Commission on tracking online disinformation.  “Disinformation refers to false information that is deliberately pushed into the public arena,” Culloty explains.  “It often mimics journalism formats, which is confusing for citizens and undermines journalistic media.

 

“Fake news is not a helpful term because it tends to be used to discredit a source someone doesn’t like.  For example, Donald Trump calls CNN fake news because he doesn’t like the way it reports his presidency.

 

 

“Also, much of the misleading content we find online isn’t entirely fake; it’s original content that is distorted or manipulated slightly so disinformation is a more accurate term.”

 

 

 

Why are We Hearing so Much About It?

“Although there has always been disinformation and propaganda, many countries are experiencing increased levels of disinformation, which is often linked to the rise of populist and radical right-wing movements,” Culloty says.  “The targets which have received the most attention are political actors, but minority groups such as immigrants and refugees are also major targets.  Globally, this disinformation presents a major threat to the stability of political and social institutions.”

 

 

 

 

 [Colouring and highlighting in the text were added by me, ICOB.]

 

 


 

 

 

Best of Luck!

Regards, Iseult

Iseult Catherine O'Brien

 

 

 

If you have any comments, positive or negative, I should welcome hearing your views.  If you find any errors or wish to disagree with any of the above, please let me know.

 

Email iseultccobrien@gmail.com.

 

I am an elected Member of The Tutors' Association. 

 

 

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Ana Kriégel murder trial:

The complete story

 

 

Conor Gallagher

Jun 18, 2019, The Irish Times.

 

 

INTERVIEW FIVE

The interview room at Finglas Garda station, in north Dublin, is not a nice place to be at the best of times.

It is small, stuffy and not designed for more than three people to use comfortably for any length of time.

 

By 2.30pm on May 25th last year all five of its occupants were feeling stressed.  Among them was a 13-year-old boy who had been answering questions for nearly ten hours over two days.

His mother, who in the first interview had sat beside the boy, holding his hand, had moved her chair farther away.  She appeared to become more distressed by every new question put to her son.

The boy’s solicitor, who had remained silent for most of the process, had begun to clash with the interviewing Gardaí more frequently over their questioning.

 

For the Garda detectives in the room, Donal Daly and Damien Gannon, the stress came from the knowledge that they had only a few more hours to get the boy, who would later become known to the public as Boy B, to reveal how 14-year-old Ana Kriégel had been murdered, 11 days earlier.

 

The investigators had a mountain of forensic evidence, but it was all against Boy B’s co-accused, and one-time best friend, Boy A.  They knew Boy B was present when Ana died, and they knew he had played a role in bringing her to the abandoned house where she was killed.  They also knew there was a big difference between knowing something and proving it.

 

It had been an exhausting process.  Slowly but surely the detectives’ questioning had caused the boy to revise his account of the day of Ana’s murder.

 

Boy B had started the interview process the day before by repeating what he first told Gardaí the previous week: that Boy A had asked him to call to Ana’s home, in Leixlip, just outside Dublin in Co Kildare, and bring her to him in St Catherine’s Park, so they could talk.  And that he left Ana with Boy A before going home to do his homework.

 

As part of their investigation, Gardaí had examined more than 700 hours of CCTV footage from the area around where Ana disappeared.  Daly and Gannon put it to Boy B repeatedly that the route he claimed they took that day in no way matched what was captured by the cameras in and around St Catherine’s Park, which sits on the Lucan side of Leixlip, on the border between Co Kildare and Co Dublin.

But Boy B stuck to his story, offering alternate explanations to Gardaí for the inconsistencies between the CCTV footage and his account.

 

‘I’m going to retell the story of what actually happened,’ Boy B said. ‘What I told you yesterday was a lie’.

 

The first change to his story came the next morning, at the start of interview four.  The boy had spent the night in an office on the second floor of the station.  Because the Children Act forbids child suspects from being detained in cells, Gardaí had cleared an office for the boy and brought in bedding so he and his mother could sleep there overnight.  The station had been closed to all other prisoners to ensure the boy didn’t come into contact with any other adults.

 

His solicitor told the detectives the boy had reflected on his statement overnight and wanted to make a change.  “I’m going to retell the story of what actually happened,” Boy B said.  “What I told you yesterday was a lie.”

 

He went on to say he and Ana had met Boy A by the BMX track in the park, not by Courtyard Lane as he previously claimed.  Despite the dramatic preamble, the boy’s admission of dishonesty did little to advance the case.  He claimed he lied because he initially got confused about his movements in the park and felt he couldn’t change his story without arousing suspicion.

 

Until then Boy B had remained remarkably calm.

 

A highly intelligent child, he spoke calmly, clearly and in full sentences.  When Gardaí asked if he knew what words like “detention” or “murder” meant he gave concise, accurate answers.  At one point Gannon asked if he knew what the word “arrest” meant.  “That you are detaining me for something that I did or might have done,” Boy B replied.

 

He appeared to have a large vocabulary for his age (he described Ana as wearing “synthetic leather” trousers) and put his answers into context when they might otherwise have been confusing.  He sounded more like a young adult in a job interview than a 13-year-old boy accused of murder.

 

In short, up to that point he appeared more than a match for the detectives’ gentle interview approach.

But, despite appearing relatively inconsequential, Boy B’s concession that he had told lies marked a turning point in the interviews and in the wider case.

 

It provided the detectives with a valuable tool.  Because he had admitted to lying once, Daly and Gannon could now cast doubt over everything else the boy had told them.  Now, whenever the boy said anything that sounded fishy, they could remind him he had already lied to them and had been found out.

 

The Garda Síochána interview model was introduced following the Morris tribunal, which heavily criticised the informal and sometimes oppressive interview tactics employed by the force.  The model introduced a standardised approach to interviews across the Garda.  All operational members are now trained in eliciting information from victims, witnesses and suspects while being careful not to lead them into simply telling them what they want to hear.

 

After completing an intensive two-week course at the Garda College, in Templemore, Daly had qualified as a level-three interviewer, the second highest in the four-tier training hierarchy.

Level-three interviewers usually focus on serious crimes such as murder and rape.  They’re trained to prepare extensively for each interview.  If a suspect has an excuse for their actions, it is vital the interviewer immediately be able to cite any evidence that might disprove it.

 

Although their approach seems natural and fluid, level-three interviewers are actually following a strict formula.  The first step is to build rapport.  This creates “a non-judgmental, non-coercive atmosphere conducive to disclosure”, according to a 2016 study of the model.

 

Daly spent large parts of the first interview asking Boy B about his interests and hobbies.  He asked what video games he liked (Halo and Outlast) and about his favourite Marvel character (Deadpool).  There was laughter as Daly told Boy B he’d have to spell the name of his favourite YouTube star, PewDiePie, for him.

 

“Any outdoor interests?” Daly asked.  The boy said sometimes he and his friend used the pull-up bars in the park.

“Can you do a pull-up?” the detective asked.

“Yeah.”

“Good man.”

 

There was no problem with the boy taking breaks whenever he wanted, and there were several trips to the vending machine or shop to get him chewing gum or Ribena.

With the suspect put at ease, the next step, in line with Daly’s training, was to let the boy tell his story in his own words, without interruptions.  Next, he began to challenge the boy, gently at first, by highlighting the inconsistencies and improbabilities in his account.

“This is your opportunity,” Daly told him in a low voice.  “Now is the time for the truth.”

 

Aside from boredom, and sometimes frustration, Boy B had so far displayed little emotion or distress.  That changed as Daly and Gannon started to show him evidence from the abandoned house.

 

When Daly showed him a photograph of the crime scene with Ana’s body pixelated out, Boy B held his head in his hands and responded: “Jesus, one of my closest friends.”  He quickly added he was referring to Boy A, not Ana.

 

“Wait a minute.  Holy shit. Oh my God,” he said when shown a photograph of the insulation tape that had been wrapped around Ana’s neck.  He told Gardaí he had recently given the tape to Boy A.

 

Over the years detectives tend to pick up their own techniques for interviewing dishonest suspects.  Some will pause suddenly at crucial moments, catching the suspect by surprise and throwing them off guard.  Others like to refuse requests for a cigarette or glass of water until the suspect gives them new information.  In some cases, it makes sense to appeal to a suspect’s conscience.  In others, vague insinuations about lengthy prison sentences are more effective.

 

In this case the boy’s age meant Daly was highly constrained and had to be particularly careful not to use any tactics that a Court might later view as oppressive or intimidating.

 

But, although it remained gentler than most murder interviews, by the fifth session the atmosphere in the room had changed drastically.  Frustration was starting to creep into Daly’s voice; his tone suggested he was getting tired of the boy’s lies.

 

He never lost his temper, however.  Instead he continued to urge the boy to come clean: “You owe it to everyone to start telling the truth here.  You owe it to your mam, to yourself, to tell the truth, because unfortunately a girl has been brutally murdered.”

 

Although he had changed several important aspects of his story by that point, Boy B continued to deny any knowledge of what happened to Ana in the abandoned house.

 

The scream was, like, really loud.  Just before it ended it got muffled, like someone covered her mouth.

 

The most important breakthrough came in the late afternoon of May 25th, about halfway through interview five.  Daly had just informed the boy that they had a witness who saw a teenager they believed to be him walking through a field and towards the abandoned house.  The boy admitted to going into the field to look around but insisted he went no farther.

 

Daly sighed.  “You’re making this up as you go along [Boy B], I have to say.  I’m presenting facts and evidence to you, and you’re changing your story to suit.  You can’t keep doing this.”

 

There was a long pause before Boy B asked his mother to leave the room.  Daly said this was not possible, as he was a minor and required a guardian at all times.  His solicitor suggested they take a break, but Daly wanted to keep going.  “I think we’re at a crucial point here.  The truth, that’s all we want.”

 

Boy B took a deep breath before telling Gardaí that Boy A went into the house with Ana.  “I left, and that’s when I heard the scream, and then I ran,” he said.  “It was a really strong scream.  I knew that it was Ana, but since [Boy A] was there she’d be fine.  He’d protect her.  The scream was, like, really loud.  Just before it ended it got muffled, like someone covered her mouth.”

 

After dozens of lies the boy had admitted for the first time knowing something had happened to Ana.  He started to weep, as did his mother.  When the moment was played back in court, exactly a year later, Ana’s mother, Geraldine, would also weep.  Much worse was to come.

 

 

ANA’S LAST DAY

Ana wasn’t very good at geography.  One of the several ailments afflicting the young girl was short-term memory problems, making it difficult for her to recall all the terms she needed.  In general Ana wasn’t academically inclined, her mother later said.  Part of this was down to her having been adopted from Russia at the age of two, leaving her playing catch-up with her peers in English-language skills.  Problems with her hearing compounded the issue.

 

There were exams the following week so on the morning of Sunday, May 13th, 2018, Geraldine Kriégel planned to sit down with her daughter to help her study.

 

“No, Mam, you must be exhausted.  We can do it later,” Ana told her mother.  Geraldine agreed.  There was to be a small family gathering later, but now they had a few hours to relax beforehand.

In the meantime, Ana did one of her favourite things: watching movies with her mother and eating popcorn.

 

Ana would make videos about dancing, clothes and make-up for her 100 or so subscribers.  Although they attracted many pleasant comments, one viewer told Ana to ‘go die’.  Another said they would have her executed.

 

Later Geraldine ordered pizza for the party.  Ana didn’t like pizza, so she walked into Leixlip and brought home a spice bag from the Chinese takeaway.  Back at the house the children played while the adults had a drink in the conservatory.

 

At one stage Ana and her cousin went up to her room to make a YouTube video, another of her favourite hobbies.  Like nearly every other teenager, Ana used a staggering number of social-media apps, including Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Houseparty.  Her favourite was YouTube.

 

She would make videos about dancing, clothes and make-up for her 100 or so subscribers.  Although the videos attracted many pleasant comments, they also brought poisonous barbs and even threats.  One viewer told Ana to “go die”.  Another said they would have her executed.

 

A short time later the family gathering ended; there was school the next day.  Ana’s cousins were collected, and she went to bed at about 10.30pm.

Before going to sleep Ana asked her mother to wake her the next morning in time to say goodbye before she left for work.  Like most teenagers, Ana liked to sleep in, but she had promised her parents she would try to get up earlier in the morning.

 

 

Geraldine Kriégel is a senior manager in the legal department of CIÉ, the State public-transport company.  She was usually first up in the morning; her husband, Patric Kriégel, had retired from teaching French at Dublin Institute of Technology.

That morning Ana reminded her mother that she needed a note to get out of school at 2.30pm; she had a counselling appointment with Kildare Youth Services, which she attended once a week.  Geraldine wrote the note, kissed Ana goodbye and left to get the train to Dublin, where she had a meeting.

Her daughter put on her school uniform, had a little breakfast and left sometime later.

The plan was for Ana to eat lunch at school before walking to counselling.  But she decided to return home to eat before going to her appointment.

 

After counselling she came home, had a snack of some oven chips and went to her room.  It was around this time she tried to phone her mother.  The two frequently called or texted each other during the day.  When Ana rang at 4.02pm, Geraldine was in a meeting and couldn’t answer.  She texted her daughter to tell her she’d call her shortly.

 

Patric was relaxing outside, taking in the May sunshine, when, at 4.55pm, he heard the doorbell.  It was Boy B.  He asked for Ana.  When her father told her who was at the door, Ana was confused.  She knew who the boy was, but they were by no means friends.  Nonetheless she went down and spoke to him.

Patric saw Ana standing in the doorway, whispering to the boy.  He didn’t find this unusual, he would later recall.  “I think a lot of teens do it.”

 

 

Ana’s hoody was distinctive: black with writing down the sleeves.  Within days most of Ireland would see photographs in newspapers and on television of Ana wearing it.

 

 

She then ran back upstairs to get her hoody before telling Patric she was going out.  Ana’s mother had bought the hoody for her online, from China.  It was distinctive: black with writing down the sleeves.  Within days most of Ireland would see photographs in newspapers and on television of Ana wearing it.

Patric reminded Ana about her exams and told her she was supposed to study that evening.  Ana responded that nobody had told her this and that she wouldn’t be long.

 

“I believe she meant it.  I knew from the way she was saying it that she meant exactly that,” Patric would later say.

Seconds after Ana left, Patric realised he had forgotten to ask where she was going.  He went to the door and saw Ana walking towards St Catherine’s Park.  The boy, who was carrying a small backpack, walked ahead of her.  The two didn’t appear to be talking.

 

Although it was unusual for this boy to call for Ana, Patric was not overly concerned.  “She was happy when she left.  She gave me a big smile.”

 

Geraldine was on the train home at the time.  She had been chatting to a friend who got off at Coolmine at about 5.10pm, finally giving Geraldine a chance to return Ana’s call from earlier.  It went to voicemail.  Geraldine didn’t leave a message, as she knew she would see Ana when she got home, in a few minutes.

 

Normally she wouldn’t get home so early, but that day she had taken the train because of her meeting in Dublin.  She found her husband in the back garden.  He told her Ana had gone out with Boy B.  “I became immediately concerned, because he has nothing to do with her,” Geraldine recalled later.  “Nobody calls for Ana.”

 

 

‘ENDLESSLY BULLIED’

To understand why Geraldine Kriégel was so concerned when she learned Ana had left the house with Boy B, it’s necessary to understand recent events in the teenager’s life.

 

Ana was savagely bullied inside and outside school.  Above all she wanted friends her own age, friends who weren’t her cousins.  But she had few.

Born in February 2004 in Novokuznetsk, an industrial city in western Siberia, Ana was adopted and brought to Ireland by Geraldine and Patric in 2006.  She was their first child.

 

Despite having no link to Russia themselves, Ana’s parents made sure she retained some connection to her native culture.  They kept her name, Anastasia, although everyone would shorten it to Ana.  On the day she died her social-media profile picture was a Siberian wolf.

 

For most of primary school Ana was a happy pupil despite struggling with a variety of health issues.  Doctors found a tumour in her right ear that required a 5½ hour operation to remove.  She could barely hear from that ear afterwards and would always walk or stand on the left side of people as a result.  She had poor eyesight and a scar on the back of her head from the surgery, along with another on her chin from when she fell as a young child.

 

As she entered her teens she also suffered from a painful condition, sometimes seen in adolescents, that occurs when the bones grow faster than the muscles.

Emotional problems began to appear as primary school came to an end.  On one occasion her parents were alerted that Ana had told a teacher she was feeling suicidal.

 

She was excited about going to secondary school, but her parents and teachers were worried.  Ana’s resource teacher told Geraldine and Patric she was terrified for her, because she was so innocent.  She feared other students would take advantage of this.

 

The parents met early with the management of the secondary school to highlight their concerns about Ana being a potential target for bullies.

In fact, the bullies didn’t even wait for her to start school.  During the summer after sixth class Ana was bullied online by third-year students who sent her sexually suggestive messages.

 

Much of the bullying was about her height. Ana was “a typical Siberian”, her mother would later say in court, strong and tall.  By the time she was 13 she was 173cm, or 5ft 8in, tall.  “She looked much older than her years,” her mother said.  “She could have passed for an 18-year-old.”

“She was taller than me,” Patric recalled with a smile.

 

 

The bullies mocked the fact that Ana was adopted, telling her she had a fake mam and dad.  Geraldine and Patric took screenshots of some of the messages and showed them to her school.

 

The bullies also mocked the fact that she was adopted, telling her she had a “fake mam and dad.”  Geraldine and Patric took screenshots of some of the messages and showed them to the school.

 

But the situation did not improve after she started school.  “She was endlessly bullied,” Geraldine said.

 

That Halloween Ana came home hysterical and terrified.  She had been walking back after supervising a disco for young children (“she volunteered for everything,” Geraldine said) when four boys approached.  One asked her repeatedly for sex before hitting her on the backside.  A complaint was made to the Garda, and the boy received a caution.

 

Ana would walk for hours at a time, usually while listening to music on her distinctive blue headphones.  She almost always walked alone.  “You would see other girls walking in groups, and Ana would be walking alone,” Geraldine would tell the Court.

 

Her parents painted a picture of a kind-hearted, innocent girl who craved friendship.  She loved spending time at home with her family but longed for someone her own age to hang around with.

“People didn’t understand her.  She was unique and full of fun,” Patric said.

 

“She couldn’t hate anyone even though some of the people were bullying her.  She was disappointed with people.  That happened quite regularly.  She tried to make friends but might say the wrong thing.  She was a teenager.”

 

He said Ana started to act out in worrying ways.  There were fights at school, one of which resulted in a suspension.  One day she painted a black eye on herself before going into school.

 

“It was attention seeking.  For me it was an expression of pain she suffered on the inside,” Geraldine said.

“She said she felt invisible,” said Patric.

 

At one point it was discovered that Ana had set up fake social-media accounts that she was using to send bullying messages to herself.  From then on, she had to give all the passwords to her apps to Geraldine, who would check her phone every night.

 

“She didn’t like it, but she knew if she didn’t, I would take the phone,” her mother said.  Shortly before Ana’s death Geraldine found a photograph on the phone of her blindfolded and tied to a chair.  Ana told her mother it was part of a prank.  She and another girl were pretending she was in trouble, to see if another boy would come and rescue her.

 

As Ana’s emotional problems grew, her parents felt she needed some outside support.  They approached Kildare Youth Services, which initially said it couldn’t see Ana, because she had self-harmed.  Ana had recently cut her arm with a scissors; her parents believed she did it in imitation of a boy she knew.

 

She was referred to Pieta House, the charity that helps people who are in suicidal distress or who self-harm, where she did well.  Staff there judged her as being at a very low risk of suicide.  They had to ring Patric and get him to pick her up from the sessions, as the prospect of being bullied made her scared to walk home alone.

 

After six sessions at Pieta House she was accepted by Kildare Youth Services, the service she was attending at the time of her murder.

 

Ana did have a handful of friends, including a girl who would call over for sleepovers and to watch films.  But she was certainly not friends with Boy B, something Geraldine was well aware of when she returned home on Monday, May 14th.

 

 

THE SEARCH

Shortly after 5.30pm, Geraldine texted her daughter a two-word message: “home now”.  There was no response.  She talked it over with Patric before sending another message a few minutes later: “Answer me now or I’m calling the police.”  The part about the police was just to get Ana’s attention, Geraldine later explained.

 

She was conflicted.  She knew Ana had only been gone for half an hour, and felt like a “paranoid mother”, but she was extremely worried.

Geraldine walked to the park.  She could see children playing and adults walking their dogs, but she saw no sign of Ana.

 

After dinner she went out looking for Ana in the car, driving around local estates. Ana loved to go for long walks, so she could have been anywhere in the area.

Once she got home, Geraldine and Patric went on Facebook to find out Boy B’s surname.  They knew him vaguely but had no idea where he lived or who his parents were.  Geraldine rang around, trying to find out his address, but without success.

 

She and Patric went to the house of John Cribbin, a retired detective and friend, for advice.  He told them to go straight to the Garda.  At that point Ana had been gone for four hours.

 

 

The parents went to Leixlip Garda station, where Geraldine explained it was highly unusual for Ana to not get in touch.  She told Gardaí her daughter was a communicator.  “She would always respond.  Even if she said she was not talking to you she would respond, to tell you she wasn’t talking to you.” Ana’s Irish and Russian passports were still at home, and she hadn’t eaten since lunch, Geraldine added.

 

Gardaí took her seriously, but there was no reason to be immediately concerned.  Every week the Garda receives dozens of reports of missing children; the vast majority turn up within a few hours.

 

The first job for Gardaí was to visit the house of Boy B after locating his address on their Pulse computer system.

 

Garda Conor Muldoon went that evening to the house where Boy B told him he had called for Ana that day, that they had walked in the park and that he had left her company there at 5.40pm.  It was the first of dozens of lies he would tell investigators.

 

 

Ana’s family walked the local area and spoke to anyone they could think of who might know where she was.  By now Gardaí were also worried, and a missing-person investigation began in earnest.

 

 

The next day Ana’s family got up early to resume the search.  Joined by friends and family, they walked the local area and spoke to anyone they could think of who might know where Ana was.  By now Gardaí were also worried, and a missing-person investigation began in earnest.  Sgt John Dunne was tasked with returning to Boy B’s house to question him further.  This time Boy B told the Garda he had called for Ana the previous day on behalf of his friend Boy A.

 

Ana had a crush on Boy A, but he wasn’t interested, and he wanted to meet up with her to tell her, Boy B said.  He said he brought Ana to the park, where she met Boy A, before leaving them and returning home to do his homework.

 

Dunne brought Boy B to the park, so he could show him exactly where he went with Ana.  Boy B showed the Garda where they had entered the park, where they had met Boy A and where he had left the two of them to talk.  The Garda marked all of these locations using the GPS function on his Tetra radio before dropping the boy home.

 

Meanwhile a Garda family liaison officer was appointed to keep Ana’s family informed about the search.  Standard procedure at this stage was to issue a media appeal.  Ana’s parents provided some photographs of their daughter, including one of her wearing the distinctive black-and-white hoody.

 

It was in the late afternoon of Tuesday, May 15th, when the wider public first learned Ana Kriégel’s name.

 

“Gardaí are seeking the public’s help in tracing 14-year-old Anastasia Kriégel, who was last seen at her home in Leixlip, Co Kildare, at 5pm on Monday the 14th of May 2018,” the press release said.  “Anastasia is described as 5’8”, black shoulder length hair, sallow skin and slim build.”

 

Gardaí send out missing-person alerts almost daily.  The week before Ana’s death three alerts, all relating to teenagers, were issued.  All three of those young people were later found safe and well.

 

After the appeal went out potential leads began to pour in, all of which the Garda had to follow up.

 

One caller said he had seen her in Dundrum, in south Dublin. Another told Gardaí they had seen Ana in the departures area of Dublin Airport.  One of the more promising leads came from a local woman who said her daughter had seen Ana on the morning of May 15th by a nearby cul-de-sac.  Gardaí followed up and discovered that a school friend lived on the cul-de-sac and that he hadn’t attended school that day.  But a search of the boy’s house revealed nothing, and the lead turned out to be a dead end.

 

Back in Lucan, Dunne and his colleagues continued to comb the area.  After walking the park with Boy B, the Garda decided to search the railway line, but he found nothing.  As Dunne was walking back he was stopped by a man and his son.  The man had heard about Ana going missing and suggested the Garda check the back of the local sewage-treatment plant, as teenagers tended to hang around there.

 

It was only later that day that Dunne realised this man was Boy A’s father and the teen with him was Boy A.

 

At that stage both boys were being treated as witnesses, not suspects.  Gardaí had no reason to believe they had hurt Ana or even that Ana had been hurt at all.  But, because they were the last ones to have seen her, any information they could provide was vital.

On Tuesday afternoon a decision was taken to bring Boy B back to the park, this time with Boy A.

 

The boys led the way as Dunne and Sgt Aonghus Hussey followed with Boy A’s father.  As they walked Dunne noticed Boy B was leading them on a different route from one he showed them earlier.

 

The boys came to a stop on a path near the BMX track in the park.  Dunne and Hussey both saw them exchange what they would later describe as a glance or look.  It was the first indication the boys weren’t telling the Garda everything.  It was decided formal statements should be taken, so they could clarify their exact movements.

 

Boy B told Gardaí the same story he gave earlier.  “I have no clue what happened to her,” he said, adding that the first time he heard something was wrong was when Gardaí called to him the night before.

 

Boy A gave a detailed statement about his movements.  He said Boy B was one of his best friends and had called to his house after school.  Boy A was doing his chores, so they arranged to meet in the park in a while.  When Boy B arrived there he was with Ana, a girl he knew from school, but “not that well”.

 

He told Gardaí: “At one stage Ana said to me, ‘I have something to ask you.  I was wondering if you wanted to go out with me.’  I was surprised.  It came out of nowhere.  I kind of knew she liked me, because she kind of asked me out [before].”

He said he wanted to tell her “gently” that he didn’t want to go out with her.  “I said, ‘I’m sorry, but I’m not interested’.  She didn’t answer.  She said nothing.  She walked off.  She looked annoyed and sad at the same time.”

 

 

By this stage Boy B had also left, Boy A said.  He walked on alone until he was attacked by “two males.”  One grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him to the ground and both started kicking him, he claimed.

 

 

Boy A did have injuries consistent with an assault, but something didn’t feel right.  His description of defeating his attacker with a kick to the head sounded more like teenage fantasy than reality.

 

 

The attack ended when Boy A “got up and kicked one of them in the head”, causing both to flee.  Gardaí were somewhat sceptical of the story.  The boy did have injuries consistent with an assault – his arm and leg were injured, and his face was cut – but his account didn’t feel right.

In particular, his description of defeating his attacker with a kick to the head sounded more like teenage fantasy than reality.

 

Nevertheless, Gardaí were assigned to investigate the alleged assault.  Boy A was taken to Garda headquarters, where he helped investigators compile a photofit of the attackers.  None of the witnesses in the park that day saw anybody matching the photofit.  CCTV cameras also failed to pick up anyone matching the description.

 

The following day, Wednesday May 16th, the search was kicked up a gear.  There were now serious concerns that Ana may have been harmed or even killed.

 

Insp Mark O’Neill of Lucan Garda station was assigned to lead the missing-person investigation, and all members coming on duty in stations in north Dublin and Kildare were briefed on the matter.  Specialist search teams were brought in, including the Garda subaqua unit, which searched the River Liffey and other bodies of water in the area.  The Civil Defence provided 60 members to aid in the operation.  The Garda crime and security branch was asked to analyse mobile-phone traffic, to try to track Ana’s movements.

 

 

A MANNEQUIN OR ‘SOMETHING TERRIBLE’

Her body was found in an abandoned farmhouse on May 17th, 2018.

 

Glenwood House was built around 1800; some say it was designed by James Gandon, the architect of the Custom House and the Four Courts, on the Liffey in Dublin.  The handsome farmhouse sits on just over 40 hectares, or 100 acres, of farmland at the edge of St Catherine’s Park, on the Lucan-Clonee road, in an area known locally as Coldblow.

It was home to the Colgan family until the last decades of the 20th century, before being abandoned entirely.

 

The subsequent years were not kind to Glenwood.  Despite being a protected structure because of its architectural significance, the house was effectively a ruin by May 2018.  Bottles and cans littered the floors, the result of the house’s popularity with local teenagers looking to avoid the prying eyes of parents and Gardaí.  The roof had collapsed in several places, and several rooms had been gutted by fire.

 

The house continued its decline even after it was bought, in the early 2000s, by a company linked to the hotelier Noel O’Callaghan, for €10.5 million.   In recent years the Company has been trying to get planning permission to turn it into a 62-bed nursing home, a plan welcomed by most locals, who despaired that the once-fine structure had become an eyesore. 

 

One group, Old Lucan, appealed to locals in January 2018 to contact Fingal County Council and ask it to enforce the building’s protected-structure status.  There has been no update on the campaign or the owner’s attempts to repurpose Glenwood since April 2018.

 

“We all know what happened there,” one member of the Old Lucan group wrote on its Facebook page recently.  “Once the trial is over it should be knocked down and so should the adjacent buildings.”

 

 

On the morning of Thursday, May 17th, 2018, Sgt Declan Birchall and his specially trained four-person search team were deployed to an area of Lucan that included part of St Catherine’s Park and Glenwood House.

 

Working from maps, and using a grid system, the team methodically searched the park, including all its hedgerows and ditches.  Once they got to the large field beside the park, they used slash hooks to clear the way.

 

Glenwood House stood at the end of the field.  Birchall, like most local Gardaí, was familiar with the building, having responded to reports of teenagers messing there over the years.

 

Birchall searched the outbuildings while his colleague Garda Seán White went into the main house through the rear porch.  At the end of one of the corridors, at the front of the house, White looked into what would later be designated as Room 1.

 

It was dark inside.  The windows were boarded up, and the only light came from a hole in one of the planks over the glass.  In the gloom White thought he could make out a figure.  He could definitely smell dried blood.  The Garda would later tell a colleague he believed he was looking at either a mannequin “or something terrible”.

He called out but got no response.  In line with his training, he stepped into the room to confirm what he thought he had seen, then left and called for assistance.

 

 

Birchall rushed into the house when he heard White shout “Find”, to indicate he had located something of significance.

As the search team leader, he entered Room 1 to confirm what White believed he had seen.  Inside was Ana Kriégel’s body, naked except for her black socks.

 

At first Birchall believed something was covering Ana’s face.  When he leaned closer, he realised it was her hair, which he said was stuck to her face as if she had been “thrashing” it around.

 

 

During the trial Prof Marie Cassidy, the State pathologist, would spend about 40 minutes just listing the 50 injury sites on Ana’s body.

 

 

Her clothing and pieces of her iPhone were scattered around the room.  Nearby were a cement block and a large stick, both of which were bloodstained.  There was also blood staining on the walls and on the carpeted floor.  The blood had clearly come from the many wounds on the girl’s body.

 

A long length of Tescon insulation tape was partially wrapped around her neck.  She had three fingers inside the tape, as if she was trying to get it off.

 

Gardaí quickly established a crime scene while they awaited the arrival of Supt John Gordon, from Lucan Garda station. A local GP was called to formally pronounce death, and within an hour the Kriégel family had been told by their Garda liaison officer that Ana’s body had been found.  They were told they would have to go to the morgue that evening, to make a formal identification.

 

The missing-person investigation immediately became a murder investigation, and Insp O’Neill was appointed senior investigating officer, with 20 Gardaí working under him.  For now, his job would be to marshal the many forensic and technical experts who would file in and out of Glenwood House for the next several days.

 

Every inch of Room 1 would be examined and catalogued, along with every beer can, cigarette butt and piece of debris it contained.

 

The most pressing task was the pathology exam.  The State pathologist, Prof Marie Cassidy (she has since retired), visited the location before overseeing the transport of the body by hearse to the State Laboratory, in Whitehall in north Dublin, for a full autopsy that evening.

 

Ana had a staggering number of injuries.  During the trial Cassidy would spend about 40 minutes just listing the 50 injury sites.  There were bruises and lacerations all over the body the most serious to Ana’s head, face and neck.

 

Cassidy concluded Ana had died from blunt-force trauma to the head and neck.  There were also signs of compression to her neck, but there was no evidence the tape had caused this.

 

Other injuries suggested there had been penetration, or attempted penetration, of the vagina with something, but Cassidy could not determine what that something was.  She also couldn’t tell if Ana had been conscious at the time.

 

On the basis of the pathology and forensic evidence, the Garda suspected Ana had been beaten to the ground with a heavy stick shortly after entering the room, then hit four times with a heavy object such as a concrete block.

 

Next, she was pulled towards the window, where there was more light.  It was likely here she was sexually assaulted.  Her false nails scattered around the room indicated she had fought her attacker fiercely.

 

Despite the huge amount of forensic material at the scene nothing immediately pointed towards a suspect.  All the fingerprints and blood belonged to Ana.  But scientists from Forensic Science Ireland made a grim breakthrough when they examined Ana’s top and discovered semen stains.

 

 

Boy A’s phone included a result for Jeff the Killer, a widely shared short story about a teenager who murders his family.

 

 

The focus of the investigation immediately returned to the two boys.  The discrepancies in their accounts meant Gardaí already had enough reason to suspect them, but they wanted to wait for forensic proof that at least one of them was at the scene.  That came a few days later, when Forensic Science Ireland reported that Ana’s blood was found on Boy A’s boots, which had already been taken by Gardaí investigating the allegation that he had been assaulted by two males in the park.

 

As part of the assault investigation Gardaí had also taken the boy’s phone.  On it they found more cause to suspect he was behind Ana’s death.  The phone contained a screenshot of a list of YouTube videos, including “The 15 most gruesome torture methods in history”, “Horror films that will blow everything away” and “Until Dawn – Get Jessica’s clothes off”; Until Dawn seemed to be a reference to a popular horror video game.  There was also a result for Jeff the Killer, a widely shared short story about a teenager who murders his family.  

 

On their own these results could have been interpreted as reflecting the macabre but not entirely unexpected interests of a young teenage boy.  But for Gardaí the presence of another search result, for “abandoned places in Lucan”, put things in a different light.

 

 

ARREST, INTERVIEW AND CHARGE

A week after Ana’s body was found Gardaí were granted a warrant to arrest both boys.

 

From the very beginning of the investigation concessions were made for their age; some were required by law, others were at the discretion of the Garda, lawyers and judges.

 

Both boys’ parents were informed on the evening of May 23rd their sons would be arrested the following day.  The parents were asked to bring them to the Garda station in the morning.  But they were not told their homes would be searched immediately after the arrests.

 

Insp O’Neill told his team they were to carry these out with the utmost discretion.   Gardaí used rental cars instead of patrol cars to get there.  They wore plain clothes and put their evidence bags in black sacks before they were taken out of the houses.

 

After he was arrested Boy A was interviewed at Clondalkin Garda station, in west Dublin, in the company of his father and their solicitor Donough Molloy.  As they had done with Boy B, Gardaí started by asking him if he knew the difference between right and wrong.

 

“Leaving the door open for somebody” is right; “tripping somebody up” or stealing a chocolate bar is wrong, Boy A told Det Gardaí Marcus Roantree and Tomas Doyle.

He explained the difference between truth and lies by saying: “Truth is if you tell somebody what happened.   A lie is if you don’t tell somebody what happened.”

 

Asked about his interests, Boy A said he liked “anatomy, the human body” and “inner life, the skeleton”.  He said he liked anatomical drawing.  The detectives asked if he liked drawing live people.  “No, more evolutionary,” he responded.

 

During interview two Boy A gave Gardaí much the same story they had heard from Boy B, that he had met Ana in the park that day but was not with her in the lead-up to the time she was reported missing.

 

When he was shown CCTV footage, he said at one point that two people caught on camera could have been the ones who beat him up.  “That might be good news,” he said.  “Is there any more footage?”  Those figures were actually Boy B and Ana.

 

Det Garda Doyle then told the boy that Ana’s blood was found on his boots.  “Are you joking me?” Boy A asked.  “You can’t be serious.”

 

The interview paused after Boy A asked for some air.  His solicitor asked if he was going to be sick, and one of the Gardaí got him a glass of water.

 

When questioning resumed Doyle said: “What I’m saying to you is the only place you could have got the blood on your boots was in that room, so were you in that room?”  “No,” he replied.

 

The detectives showed Boy A a photograph of the tape around Ana’s neck.  Boy A said he had never had any tape like that.

 

Asked about the search results on his phone, Boy A said the torture-methods result came up when he was searching for horror films online.  He said he wasn’t interested in torture films.

 

Despite being presented with strong forensic evidence Boy A did not admit any involvement in the murder.  Most of his responses were of the “no comment” or “I don’t know” variety.

 

Detectives were disappointed.  The forensics were strong, but without admissions Boy A might be able to claim that he acted in self-defence or that he never meant to kill Ana.

 

 

The detectives wondered if Boy B’s account could be used to get Boy A talking.  Perhaps Boy A would realise all the blame was being put on him and might want to defend himself.

 

 

Nine kilometres away in Finglas the interviews with Boy B were going much better for Gardaí.  After eventually telling them during his fifth interview that he heard Ana scream, the boy gradually admitted more and more.

 

This culminated in Boy B telling Daly and Gannon that Ana had gone into Room 1 with Boy A.  Despite being told to leave by Boy A, Boy B decided to explore the rest of the house.  Then the sound of “shuffling” caused him to run to Room 1, where he saw Boy A “kind of flip” Ana.  He described a judo-type move to the detectives.

 

Boy A started to choke her and pull off her clothes, he said.  Ana was crying and saying: “No, no. Don’t do this.”

 

He said at this point both Boy A and Ana turned to look at him in the doorway, which made him run away.  Boy A had a “blank look on his face”, he said.

 

It still wasn’t the truth, but it was as close as the detectives could get in the limited time for which they could detain Boy B.

The detectives, who were being advised by a specialist from the Garda national bureau of criminal investigation, wondered if Boy B’s account could be used to get Boy A talking over in Clondalkin.  Perhaps Boy A would realise all the blame was being put on him and might want to defend himself.

 

A few of the most relevant pages of Boy B’s fifth interview were copied and printed before being sent across town to Roantree and Doyle.

 

In their sixth and final interview, the detectives read the pages to Boy A before asking if there was anything he wanted to add.

 

“[Boy B] is lying. That is all,” the boy replied.

 

On the afternoon of Thursday, May 25th, 10 days after Ana’s murder, an official from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions called Insp O’Neill and gave permission for Boy A to be charged with murder.

 

The charge was put to him at 4.01pm at Clondalkin Garda station, just before the 24-hour limit for questioning expired.  Neither he nor his father, who was also present, made any reply.

 

 

The Garda said it was concerned about vigilante behaviour against the boys’ families.  Local Gardaí would later mount discreet extra patrols to ensure the families’ safety.

 

 

An hour later he was brought in a Garda van, in the company of his parents, to the Children Court, in Smithfield in Dublin, his first court appearance of many.

 

Gardaí normally announce arrests in murder investigations shortly after they occur, particularly in high-profile cases.  But here they made an exception.  The arrest of the boys was not made public until just before Boy A was due in court.  At the time Gardaí said they were concerned about vigilante behaviour against the boys’ families.  Local Gardaí would later mount discreet extra patrols to ensure the families’ safety.

 

The Children Court is a bleak grey-and-brown stone building on the corner of Smithfield Square.  Inside and up the stairs are two cramped courtrooms, although usually only one is in use.  Every day a stream of children passes through the Court, usually on relatively minor charges to do with public order, drug possession and theft.

 

Jail terms are rare, and the vast majority of defendants enter early guilty pleas.  The Children Court is effectively a District Court, the lowest tier of the criminal-justice system.  As at a District Court, there is no jury, and a judge may impose a maximum 12-month sentence for any one offence.

 

So, Boy A’s case was never going to stay there.  The legislation requires Children Court judges to transfer murder and rape cases to the Central Criminal Court, where children accused of such crimes are effectively tried as adults.  A full jury hears the case, and the judge has a much wider array of sentencing powers.

 

Fifteen minutes after the Garda van arrived at Smithfield, Boy A appeared in the courtroom with his parents.  Also packed into the room were two solicitors, two detectives, three journalists and Judge John O’Connor.

The judge told the boy’s mother she could sit beside him if she wished.  His grandfather entered a short time later and was granted permission to stay.

 

Asked by Judge O’Connor if it was his first time in court, the boy replied “yes”.

 

At that early stage the priority for the boy’s family was getting bail.  Oberstown Children Detention Campus, in Lusk in north Co Dublin, is the only facility in the State for holding underage detainees.  It is not a particularly pleasant place for anyone, but a sheltered 13-year-old with no criminal record was likely to find it especially tough.

 

As a District Court judge, O’Connor had no power to grant bail in murder cases.  The boy would have to apply to the High Court at a later date.  The judge remanded Boy A to Oberstown, allowing him a few moments with his parents before departing.  The boy looked confused as he was ushered out of the courtroom.  He walked with a pronounced limp.

 

 

The evidence against Boy A accumulated quickly.  Gardaí found a backpack in his bedroom containing gloves, knee pads, shin guards, a scarf-like ‘snood’ and a home-made mask.

 

 

The evidence against Boy A accumulated quickly once he was charged.  During the search of his house Gardaí found a backpack in his bedroom containing gloves, knee pads, shin guards, a scarf-like “snood” and a home-made mask.  This would soon become known among investigators as the “murder kit”.

 

The skull-like mask would become one of the most striking pieces of evidence in the case.  Skin coloured, it covered only the top half of the face.  Eye and nose holes had been cut out, and sharp teeth had been cut into the upper jaw and painted red.  Ana’s blood was found on the inside and outside of the mask, as well as on the knee pads, gloves and backpack.

 

The gloves were particularly important to the Garda case, as they explained why no fingerprints were found at the scene.

 

An examination of two phones found in Boy A’s bedroom revealed almost 12,500 images, the vast majority of which were pornographic.  One featured a man in a balaclava looking at a semi-naked woman; another showed a man choke a woman as a second man watched.

 

The phones’ memories showed several pornographic videos had been accessed online, including one with a title referring to a woman called Anastasia. Another referred to Russian teens. 

Perhaps even more concerning was evidence of searches for “child porn”, “horse porn” and “dead boy prank in abandoned haunted school”. When the trial started, the following year, none of these details would be heard by the jury. 

 

 

Gardaí also found witnesses to bolster their case against Boy A.  A dog walker had said he saw a boy roughly matching his description “making a beeline” for the abandoned house on May 14th.  A school friend told them Boy A appeared agitated and fidgety in the days after Ana went missing.

 

When the analysis of the semen on Ana’s top showed it matched Boy A’s DNA, the Garda got permission to charge him with aggravated sexual assault; the aggravated part referred to the extreme violence involved.   The new evidence also allowed them to re-arrest Boy B for further questioning.

 

Boy B was arrested again by appointment on July 8th and brought to Lucan Garda station, where he was interviewed another three times by Daly and Gannon. Daly went through the same procedure as before, gently coaxing the boy to reveal more about what happened that day.

 

This time Boy B said his co-accused wore the mask, which he described as a “zombie mask”, when he attacked Ana.  He described it as a “really cool” mask that Boy A had made the previous Halloween.  Boy B gave Gardaí some more details about what he did and saw, including that he had entered the house alone first and picked up a stick there.  But he continued to deny any involvement in the attack.

 

He also told Gardaí of a conversation he had with Boy A the month before Ana’s murder. He described the conversation as going like this:

Boy A: ‘Hey, want to kill somebody?’
Boy B: ‘No’.
Boy A: ‘Ah here, why not?’
Boy B: ‘Because it’s retarded.’
Boy A: ‘Oh, come on.’
Boy B: ‘Who are you planning on killing?’
Boy A: ‘Ana Kriégel’.
Boy B: ‘In your dreams’.

 

Boy B said he presumed that his friend was messing and that he always said things like that.   He repeated that he had no idea what his friend was planning on May 14th.

“Why didn’t you do anything in the room?” Daly asked.

“Because I was scared.  I was shocked.  I didn’t know what to do, because my brain was frozen, frozen in place.  I didn’t know what to do.”

 

He lied to Gardaí the day after Ana went missing because he was “just trying to forget about it and pretend nothing happened”.

“Did you not think you owed it to Ana and her family?” Daly asked.

The boy replied he was scared of being framed by Boy A.

He said he was ashamed of not helping Ana that day.

“But you could have saved her,” the detective said.

“I know.”

“Why didn’t you try and save her?”

“I don’t know.”

 

 

You lie to everybody. Lie, lie, lie. You’re in a corner and you try to wiggle out of it by telling a story to suit. Do you see how this looks for you?

 

 

Daly accused the boy of telling “lie after lie after lie”, telling him: “You go and collect a girl that [Boy A] wants to kill, and you bring her to an abandoned house and you, in your words, ‘hand over’ that girl to [Boy A], the girl he said he wanted to kill.

 

“And then you were deceptive afterwards.  You lie to everybody.  Lie, lie, lie.  You’re in a corner and you try to wiggle out of it by telling a story to suit.  Do you see how this looks for you?”

 

Boy B said that he did.  Det Garda Daly put it to Boy B that he let “a charade” play out in the days after Ana went missing, as people searched for her while he knew she was in the abandoned house.

 

“I didn’t know he would murder her,” Boy B said.  “I kept thinking to myself, this isn’t real, this isn’t happening.  I kept thinking, Boy A wouldn’t do this, it’s not like him.”

 

The detectives suspected that Boy B still wasn’t telling the whole truth, but they had to either charge or release him.   He was released while the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions considered the matter.    Four days later Boy B was rearrested and charged with Ana’s murder.  He made no reply.

 

 

BAIL

In the Children Court that day he addressed the hearing twice, once to confirm he had never been in court before and once to ask if he could go to the bathroom.  Like his co-accused, he would have to apply to the High Court for bail.

 

Proceedings moved remarkably quickly once the accused were charged.   There is usually a delay of between 18 and 24 months between the point of charge and the beginning of a murder trial. Legal issues can mean it takes much longer.

 

The speed in this case was almost unheard of, especially for a trial involving a long list of witnesses and a huge amount of forensic and CCTV evidence.   In the back offices of Garda stations orders came down that work on the Kriégel case was to be prioritised.    Analysis took days rather than weeks, and restrictions on overtime were eased.   Forensic Science Ireland staff came in on evenings and at weekends to work on the case.

 

Later the Central Criminal Court would be asked to clear a non-negotiable four weeks for the trial in the first half of 2019.

 

Part of the reason for the speed of proceedings is that, at first, it looked as if the accused might not be granted bail before the trial.   The authorities did not want to keep such young children, who like everybody else enjoyed the presumption of innocence, locked up for longer than necessary.

 

Boy A would spend more than two months in custody before being granted bail, in the High Court, on August 2nd.

 

The social-justice charity Extern, which the courts often use in complex cases, was asked to support and supervise the boy, to ensure he complied with the bail conditions.

Boy B spent just over a month in custody before being granted bail, on August 21st.

Both children would be free, albeit heavily supervised, until the start date of their trial, in April this year.

 

 

TRIAL PREPARATIONS

The legal age of criminal responsibility in Ireland is 12, but this drops to 10 when rape or murder is alleged.  At 13, Boys A and B became the youngest people in the history of the State to be charged with murder.

 

Planning for the trial began at an early stage, with Mr Justice Paul McDermott assigned to hear it.  Brendan Grehan SC, a criminal barrister with huge experience in high-profile trials such as those of the former Anglo-Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm and the serial killer Mark Nash, would lead the case for the State.

 

The judge and barristers would wear neither wigs nor robes, and the accused would be allowed to sit beside their parents in the public gallery.  The boys and their families would also be allowed enter and exit the Criminal Courts of Justice, on Parkgate Street in central Dublin, through side entrances, and separate rooms would be provided for each of them where they could unwind and consult with lawyers during court downtime.

 

 

The prosecution feared the court would be packed with reporters, negating any efforts to minimise the intimidating atmosphere.

 

 

In accordance with the Children Act the general public would not be permitted at the trial, to protect the accuseds’ identities and to make the courtroom less intimidating.

 

Bona-fide journalists would be permitted in Court.  The murder and the investigation had attracted huge public interest, and the prosecution feared the court would be packed with reporters, negating any efforts to minimise the intimidating atmosphere.

 

They considered asking for a cap on the number of journalists permitted in court.  Allowing them to view proceedings via video link, from another room, was also considered.  In the end, the media would be asked to keep their numbers down, with the implication that the court would intervene if necessary.

 

Guilty pleas are extremely rare in murder trials, as the offence carries an automatic life sentence, no matter what approach the accused takes.  As there is no sentencing discount for a guilty plea, defendants’ reason that they have little to lose by taking a chance on a trial.  Even if the evidence is damning, they may be acquitted on a technicality or because of an investigative deficiency.

 

The dynamic changes if the accused is a minor.  The Children Act is silent on whether the automatic life sentence applies to children convicted of murder, but the prevailing legal opinion is that it does not and that judges may impose a lesser sentence if appropriate.

 

Before the trial Boy A’s lawyers concentrated on applying to have the indictment severed, which is to say having Boy A tried separately from Boy B.  They reasoned that the jury was bound to be prejudiced against their client by hearing Boy B repeatedly accuse him, during his interviews, of attacking Ana.

 

The interviews of one defendant cannot be used against a co-accused.  Boy A’s defence team argued that the jurors could not help but be influenced by the content of the interviews, even if they were warned it was irrelevant to the case against their client.

 

Their application before McDermott failed.  “It would be a distortion of the factual background if the entire factual matrix of what happened in the lead-up to the death of Ms Kriégel was not set out in full to the jury,” the judge ruled, on April 12th.  He said he would give jurors strong warnings about not relying on Boy B’s interviews when considering the case against Boy A.

 

Compared with Boy A, Boy B’s defence was much easier to predict.  No forensic evidence linked him to the murder scene.   In fact, the vast majority of the evidence against him came from his own mouth during his eight Garda interviews.  If he had remained silent it is highly likely he would never have been charged.

 

The priority for Boy B’s defence was to minimise the damage done in those interviews, particularly by the many lies he had told detectives.  Gardaí had stuck rigidly to the rules when questioning the boy, meaning there was little chance of getting the interviews excluded from the trial for their being in any way coercive or oppressive.

 

In early 2019 his legal team asked Dr Colm Humphries, an experienced psychologist specialising in childhood trauma, to examine Boy B and the interview tapes.  Having done so, Humphries diagnosed the boy with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as a result of witnessing the attack on Ana.

 

This PTSD contributed to the boy telling the Gardaí untruths in an effort to protect himself, he wrote. The doctor said it was his opinion that Boy B had no knowledge of what was going to happen to Ana that day.  He said the boy was sexually naive and had gone to the house with Ana and Boy A in the hope of watching them “snogging”.

 

The defence planned to call Humphries as a witness to explain that Boy B’s lies were the result of trauma rather than an effort to hide his guilt.

 

Calling him as a witness carried a risk, however.  During Boy B’s sessions with the doctor he had given him information about what he saw in the abandoned house that day, information he had failed to give the Garda.

 

The boy told the doctor he saw Boy A standing over Ana with his trousers open during the attack.  And that he saw Ana gasping before going silent.

 

If Humphries gave defence evidence, he would likely be open to cross-examination on these matters, reinforcing the notion that Boy B continued to lie to Gardaí up to his final interview.

 

 

THE TRIAL

It is not unusual for families of murder victims to sit through the trial of the accused.  Often at least one family member remains in court for nearly all of the case, perhaps taking breaks during some of the more abstruse legal argument.

 

Few spend as much time in court as Geraldine and Patric Kriégel.  Ana’s parents, accompanied by a victim-support volunteer, were present for every moment of the trial, from the swearing of the first juror to the final verdict.

 

When they wanted some water, they would ask someone else to get it for them from the nearby canteen rather than leave court themselves.  Geraldine took notes constantly, except when she held her husband’s hand during some of the more distressing evidence.

 

Pathology evidence can often be the most upsetting evidence for families to hear.  But Geraldine and Patric remained throughout the testimony of Prof Marie Cassidy as she dispassionately described the autopsy process and the injuries inflicted on Ana.  (Boys A and B were both excused from court that day because of the graphic nature of the evidence.)

There were several moments when emotion was visible.

 

A portion of Boy B’s interview during which he made a series of childish but nasty comments about Ana caused her parents visible distress.  He said Ana was an outcast.  She didn’t have a boyfriend and dressed in “slutty” clothes, he said.  “I thought of Ana like a weirdo.  Someone I should not be around.”

 

His description of seeing Boy A attack Ana in the house also upset her parents a great deal.

 

The accused sat beside one or both of their parents during the seven weeks of evidence.  But they sat in different parts of the courtroom from each other and were never seen interacting.

 

 

In court Boy A often rested his head on his father’s shoulder. Boy B held his mother’s hand almost constantly.

 

 

During the lunch break they would go to the consultation rooms on either side of the entrance to Court 9 while a family member fetched their lunch from the canteen.

 

In court Boy A often rested his head on his father’s shoulder.  Boy B held his mother’s hand almost constantly.

 

The judge insisted on 15-minute breaks every hour or so.  These were for the boys’ benefit but were probably just as appreciated by everyone else in Court, especially on stuffy late-May afternoons.

 

The only major interruption came on the afternoon of day 15 of the trial, when a note was handed to the lawyers saying Boy B was having a panic attack.  An ambulance was called, and Court was adjourned for the day.

 

Boy B was treated at the scene and seen by his GP that evening.  The incident occurred as the jury watched videos of Boy B’s Garda interviews during which he admitted lying to Gardaí.  No reason was given for the panic attack.

 

There was another interruption earlier in the day, when the defence had complained about someone in Court staring at Boy B’s family at length and said it was distressing them.

 

From then on, the court day concluded at 2pm rather than 4.15pm.  The new timetable would add at least a week to the trial but avoided the even lengthier delays that would have resulted from repeat medical issues.

It was decided at an early stage that the jurors would not come from the general panel that is called in the Criminal Courts of Justice every Monday to hear the week’s rape and murder trials.  Instead a specially convened panel was brought in on Tuesday, April 29th.

 

The judge gave the jurors the usual warnings, such as not serving if they knew the parties in the case.  Reading from a carefully prepared script, he also warned them the evidence was likely to be distressing.

 

Jurors were also advised they would be subject to criminal sanction if they disclosed the accused’s identities outside of Court.  This warning applied to everyone else as well, the judge said.

 

The warnings seemed to do their job; it appears the identities of the boys have to date not been shared publicly online.

 

During jury selection each side is allowed to object to seven jurors without explaining why.  All three legal teams used this right liberally.  The result was a jury of eight men and four women, all of them in at least middle age.

 

 

Geraldine and Patric clearly found giving evidence emotional, but neither sought to make speeches or cast blame while in the witness box.

 

 

Ana’s parents were among the first witnesses to be called by the prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan.  As well as taking the jury through Ana’s last two days, Geraldine and Patric also humanised her.  Their descriptions of Ana’s personality and hobbies made her a real presence in the courtroom rather than an abstract piece of evidence.  The jurors would never see any photographs of Ana alive, but they would have a clear picture of her in their minds.

 

Grehan also elicited detailed evidence of the bullying Ana suffered and the distress it caused her.   The point was to show she was vulnerable and easily taken advantage of by the accused, he said.

 

Geraldine and Patric clearly found giving evidence emotional, but neither sought to make speeches or cast blame while in the witness box.

 

Their testimony was clear and calm.  There was little hint of anger.  The same was true for all four of the accused boys’ parents.  All gave evidence of their interactions with the accused before and after Ana’s death, but none sought to use the witness box to proclaim the boys’ innocence.   The furthest any of them went was Boy B’s father, who said his son was not capable of a crime like this.

 

Slowly but surely technology is becoming an intrinsic part of running a trial, and the trial of Boys A and B used it more than most. The seven child witnesses in the case gave evidence via video link from another room in the building, sparing them the distress and distraction of facing a live courtroom.

 

In the past the use of video link has been plagued by technical problems, with technicians often struggling to get the picture or sound working while a bemused jury looks on.  It would seem those days are gone; all the children were able to give their evidence without interruption.

 

A significant amount of CCTV was played to the jury by Garda Seamus Timmins.  Nothing new there, except in this trial the location of CCTV cameras was shown concurrently on a digital map of the area, making it easy for jurors to determine where exactly the accused were when captured on film.  Grehan would play this footage again when making his closing speech.

 

Also helpful was the use of a computer-generated 3D model of Glenwood House, which was created by Forensic Science Ireland and the Garda photography and mapping units.

 

 

The location of the suspected murder weapons, the blood spatters and Ana’s clothes were shown in a model beside their photographs. It gave the jury the closest possible sense of being at the scene without having to visit the house.

 

 

The location of objects such as the suspected murder weapons, the blood spatters and Ana’s clothes were shown in the model beside their photographs.  It gave the jury the closest possible sense of being at the scene without having to visit the house.

 

The 3D modelling programme has been used just once before, in the 2017 prosecution of two brothers for murder.   Ironically, during that trial Grehan, who was defending one of the accused, objected to the use of the 3D model on the basis of its being untested.

 

For such a complex case, involving so many strains of evidence, the trial was conducted with remarkable efficiency.

 

Defence concessions regarding several aspects in the case, including the lawfulness of the boys’ custody and the gathering of evidence, meant many potential Garda witnesses were not required to give evidence.

 

Those Garda witnesses who were called often spent only a few minutes in the box.  Early in the trial, five or six witnesses were sometimes called in a single day.

 

Part of the reason for the pace was the lack of cross-examination from the defence.  More often than not, Patrick Gageby, for Boy A, and Damian Colgan, for Boy B, declined to ask the witnesses any questions.

 

This made it difficult to discern the nature of the boys’ defence until very late in the case, but some of the few questions counsel posed gave a little insight into their strategy.

 

Gageby asked Geraldine Kriégel if her daughter was sexually active.  She replied that she wasn’t, a point confirmed by later medical evidence.

 

Colgan asked Prof Cassidy if someone who witnessed that attack on Ana would be traumatised. She agreed that they would be.

 

Det Gardaí Daly and Gannon were questioned at length by Colgan on the manner in which they interviewed Boy B.  Gardaí didn’t bring in specialist interviewers or give the boy regular breaks, counsel said.  The detectives replied that they stuck to the rules and that the boy’s mother was with him at all times.

 

 

IN THE ABSENCE OF THE JURY

Much of the defence work focused on persuading the judge to include evidence that was favourable to the accused while excluding evidence that painted them in a negative light.

 

For Boy A, the most important evidence to exclude was the forensics. Gageby argued that the testing of his client’s boots, on which Ana’s blood was found, was inadmissible, as Gardaí had taken the boots under false pretences.  He submitted that Gardaí had pretended to take the boots to investigate his claim of being assaulted by two men but were actually taking them to investigate Ana’s disappearance.  He made the same argument for Boy A’s phone.

 

Det Garda Gabriel Newton said she took the boots and phone solely because they might help her to find Boy A’s attackers. She said she didn’t even know Ana was dead at that stage.

The judge agreed with Newton, and the defence application failed.

 

Next Gageby argued the DNA evidence against Boy A was inadmissible because Supt Gordon had filled out the wrong form to authorise the taking of samples from the boy.

 

Called to give evidence, Gordon conceded that, instead of filling in an authorisation form under the 2014 DNA Act, he filled in one concerning the 1990 Act. The prosecution said it was a record-keeping error but no more. The detectives who took the samples gave evidence that they were correctly instructed under the 2014 Act. Again, the defence application failed.

 

One of the main objectives of Boy B’s defence team was to have the jury hear the evidence of Dr Humphries, the psychologist who examined the teen at the start of the year and determined he had been traumatised by witnessing the attack on Ana.

 

 

The psychologist said Boy B was bright but naive and immature.   He said that, at Oberstown, Boy B had asked for Lego to play with – a request the staff had never had before.

 

 

In the absence of the jury, Humphries repeated what he said in his report, that the trauma caused Boy B to tell the Gardaí “untruths”.  The doctor said he didn’t like to use the word “lie” because he didn’t want to seem judgmental.

 

He told Colgan the boy was bright but naive and immature.  By way of illustration, he said that, during his stay in Oberstown, Boy B had asked for Lego to play with – a request the staff had never had before.

 

Grehan’s cross-examination of Humphries for the prosecution was easily the most combative of the entire trial.  Counsel took particular issue with the doctor’s assertion that Boy B had “no knowledge of a plan for murder”.

 

Grehan said this was a matter for the jury.  He said the doctor’s report contained a lot of jargon but there “doesn’t appear to be any engagement with the facts of the interviews”.

 

He submitted that allowing the doctor’s evidence into the trial would trespass on the function of the jury as the judges of fact and effectively make Humphries a “13th juror”.  After taking the night to think about it, McDermott excluded the doctor’s evidence entirely.

 

But the prosecution did not enjoy an unbroken record of success in their legal applications.  In fact, a significant number of the judge’s other decisions ended up going against them, including one concerning a novel attempt to introduce photos of a mannequin into evidence.

 

 

HORROR MOVIES AND HEAVY METAL

There is a long history of prosecutors deploying unusual exhibits in criminal trials. In 2010 a bodhrán was presented in the Special Criminal Court to prove the accused was a member of the IRA.  During the Troubles a packet of digestive biscuits was presented in the same court; prosecutors argued it was a component of a home-made mortar.

 

Striking exhibits can be especially helpful in murder trials.  Juries have been shown swords, spades, guns, bats and, in the 2008 trial of Brian Kearney, for strangling his wife, a vacuum-cleaner flex.  Such exhibits can help juries visualise how a crime may have been committed far better than any description from a witness.

 

That was the idea behind the prosecution’s plan in this case to dress a mannequin up in the clothes worn by Boy A during Ana’s murder and present photos of it to the jury.  Pictures of the mannequin, fitted with the mask, gloves, snood, shin-guards and knee pads found in the boy’s backpack, would be shown to jurors.

 

 

Presenting a mannequin dressed in the clothes worn by Boy A during the murder would essentially be showing the jury the last thing Ana saw before her death.

 

 

It was, to say the least, an unusual request.  The prosecution knew McDermott would need to be convinced of the merits of bringing such an unusual exhibit into a courtroom.  It would essentially be showing the jury the last thing Ana saw before her death.

 

At the midpoint of the trial, in the absence of the jury, Grehan handed the judge three photographs of the mannequin, which had been dressed by a Forensic Science Ireland expert, John Hoade.

 

The barrister said it would be nothing more than a “visual aid” to show the jury how items from the backpack were intended to be worn.  He said the mannequin was “no more than a representation of what the jury has already seen, in a different format”.

 

Gageby, for Boy A, objected on the basis that the mannequin was speculative and there was no evidence it accurately portrayed what was worn at the time.  For example, there was no evidence to show Boy A had his hood up during the attack.

 

Mr Justice McDermott tends to look at barristers over the top of his spectacles when he is sceptical of their argument.   This is what he did as the prosecution tried to get the mannequin photographs admitted.

 

 

“Whatever limited probative value is outweighed by the disproportionate prejudicial effects.  I’m not satisfied that this photo should go in,” he ruled.

 

 

McDermott would use the same reasoning, combined with the quizzical over-the-glasses look, throughout the trial when denying the prosecution permission to admit other evidence.

 

Most of the legal wrangling was over the items obtained during the search of Boy A’s home after his arrest, including a copybook whose drawings and scribblings included a sketch titled Nightcrawler, showing an emaciated figure with a bandaged skull for a head. The words “just kill them” and “just f**king do it” were also written in the book.

This showed an interest in violent imagery, the prosecution said.

The copybook also contained instructions for constructing a “shell mask”, proof the mask found in the backpack was made by Boy A, they said.

 

The judge allowed the mask-making instructions but excluded the other items. “I’m trying to tie it in with the case, but I don’t see it,” he told Grehan.  “He had a portfolio of material.  That seems to be, on its face, the height of it.”

 

Next up was a completed questionnaire, signed by Boy A, that appeared to form a part of a school assignment. It read:

Where do you like to hang out? Abandoned places.
What are your favourite books? Horror.
What are your favourite sports? Combat.
What are your favourite movies? Horror and comedy.
What are your favourite music? Rap and heavy metal.
Single or taken? Single.
I would describe myself as: Crazy, funny, adventurous.
I am: strange
I think: differently
I feel: not much
I hope to: do well in life
I feel: angry when someone tries to annoy me or hits me
I love: steak and drawing.
I hate: homework.

 

Aside from the obvious relevance of liking to hang out in abandoned places, the prosecution said the answers gave an insight into how the accused viewed himself, as someone who is “strange”, thinks “differently” and doesn’t feel much.

 

“These are teenage documents,” McDermott said. “Lots of teenagers watch horror movies and listen to heavy metal.”

 

Gageby called them “juvenile jottings of a juvenile written in a juvenile fashion as part of some class of a school questionnaire”.

 

 

Among the most contested evidence was the huge amount of pornography found on Boy A’s electronic devices.

 

 

He continued: “The fact he feels himself strange or doesn’t feel much is likely to be taken out of context and in some way demonstrate that it is more likely that the author of this planned and killed a young girl.  In my opinion it just isn’t there.”

 

The judge ruled out every part of the questionnaire except for the reference to hanging out in abandoned places.

 

Among the most contested evidence was the huge amount of pornography found on Boy A’s electronic devices.

The prosecution sought to introduce as evidence 10 of the images that depicted sexual violence, as well as the pornographic video mentioning “Anastasia” in its title (not Anastasia Kriégel).  The violent material could be relevant to the boy’s attitude towards consent, he said. 

 

“It is general background evidence, that’s as far as we go with it. It is potentially relevant in that regard,” Grehan said.

 

Gageby countered that the probative value of the pornography evidence “is so slight as to be imperceptible” while its “prejudicial value is extremely high”. If the prosecution wanted to introduce the violent images, they might have to put them in context by introducing the thousands of other nonviolent images, he suggested.

 

It was also inadmissible because of the six-month gap between the material being accessed and the murder, Gageby argued.

McDermott agreed, ruling that admission of any of the pornographic material would be unfair.

 

Also ruled out was a video found on Boy A’s phone that appeared to show Boy B hitting a stone block with a steel-reinforced stick.  “Holy shit. That’s f**ked,” Boy A could be heard saying as he zoomed in on the damage caused to the block.

“I don’t see any relevance other than attempting to draw an inference which could not be justified,” McDermott ruled.

He made the same ruling about evidence of internet searches by Boy B for various types of knives and for a YouTube video entitled “My Girlfriend Tortured, Stabbed and Starved Me”.

 

Among the vast amount of evidence collected by Gardaí were several references to satanism. In Boy B’s room, Gardaí found a copybook laying out the rules of a “satanic cult” he had set up.  There was a list of the group’s members, including both accused, as well as the cult rules:

“Only pledge hosts can give pledges.
“Don’t talk about it.
“Act normally like nothing happened.
“No talking about Jesus or God, only Satan.”

 

Unprompted, Boy B had told Gardaí during his sixth interview that the “cult” was actually a homework club.  Participants would share their homework with each other if they had forgotten to do it, he explained.  The reference to satanism was to dissuade other classmates from wanting to join.

 

Satanism arose again when, during one interview, Daly asked Boy B if May 14th, the day Ana was murdered, had any relevance.  “That’s doomsday, isn’t it?” the detective asked.

Before the interview Daly had put the date into Google and was brought to a website called Satan’s Rapture, which featured a calendar stating the world would end on May 14th.  The boy said the date held no significance for him and he was not familiar with the satanic calendar.

 

At another point in his interviews, Boy B described seeing a “pentagram”, a symbol associated with satanism, in Glenwood House.

 

Before the start of the case prosecutors and investigators debated the relevance of the references to satanism.  Detectives had discovered little to no evidence of motivation for Ana’s murder; perhaps an interest in the occult might provide an explanation.  In the United States in the 1980s a series of violent crimes was linked to satanism, leading to what became known as “satanic panic” among the public.  (It was later established that many of the crimes had little or no link to satanism.)  Closer to home, the murder of a seven-year-old boy in 1973 in Palmerstown, in west Dublin, was suspected by some investigators as having a satanic link.

 

There were several drawbacks to the satanism theory, however.  Pentagrams, like crudely drawn swastikas, are commonly used to deface derelict buildings, and Boy B’s homework club explanation for the “cult” was corroborated by several classmates.

 

In the end the prosecution decided not to place significant relevance on the satanism material.   The jury would hear most of it in passing during the run of evidence, but it would not form a central plank of the prosecution case.

 

 

THE CASE BEFORE THE JURY

Even without much of the mobile-phone evidence the prosecution had built an extremely strong case against Boy A.  It consisted of three main elements: the CCTV of him in the park, the forensic evidence linking him to the scene, and the lies he told Gardaí, especially about being beaten up by two unidentified assailants.

 

The case against Boy B also had its strengths but was less clear cut.  The prosecution was relying almost completely on his Garda questioning, to the extent that they made the unusual decision to show almost the entirety of the videos of his interviews, 16 hours’ worth, to the jury.

 

Jurors normally receive only written transcripts of interviews, but the prosecution believed it was vital for them to see Boy B’s demeanour and the evolution of his story over the eight sessions.  (Only snippets of Boy A’s interviews were read out, as he declined to answer most of the detectives’ questions.)

 

Nevertheless, it only got them so far.  Boy B was shown repeatedly lying to Gardaí, but there was zero forensic evidence linking him to the killing.  In order to prove murder, the prosecution needed to prove he knew the plan that day was to kill Ana.  To do this they relied heavily on Boy B’s admission that Boy A had asked him a month earlier if he wanted to kill the girl.

 

 

The case against Boy B would essentially boil down to one issue: Did he believe Boy A when he asked if he wanted to kill the girl, or did he think he was joking?

 

 

The entire case against Boy B would essentially boil down to one issue: Did he believe Boy A when he said this or did he think he was joking?  If the former was true Boy B was guilty, if it was the latter, he was innocent.

 

Being at the scene of a murder is not a crime, the jury would be repeatedly told.  Nor is failing to intervene to stop a murder.

 

After more than six weeks of evidence, the prosecution closed their case.   Neither Boy A nor B gave evidence.   Nor did they call any witnesses in their defence.   This was their right; the jury would be reminded.   The onus was on the prosecution to prove their guilt, not the defence to prove their innocence.

 

 

Before closing speeches began there was some legal argument about the possibility of alternative verdicts being put before the jury.  There had been some speculation that lawyers for one or both of the boys would ask that the jury be allowed to consider a manslaughter verdict as well as a murder verdict.   But there was no such application from either party.

 

 

After the jury began its deliberations, however, Gageby asked the judge to the jurors that the option of manslaughter was still open to them.  McDermott refused after objections from the prosecution.

 

This left only the question of whether the jury would be allowed to consider an alternative verdict against Boy B of impeding the prosecution of Boy A through his lies in interview. After considering the matter the judge ruled that the offence did not apply, as Boy B’s interviews could not be used against Boy A in evidence anyway. No alternative verdicts would be put before the jury.

 

The boys’ defences would finally become clear when their lawyers delivered their closing speeches.

 

In a speech lasting less than an hour, Gageby focused on what he said was a lack of evidence that Boy A planned to kill Ana.  He never overtly said his client was connected to the girl’s death, but he conceded that the jury might decide Boy A was present when the injuries were inflicted on Ana.   “But is there any real evidence that he planned any of this?” he asked.

 

The barrister also alluded to the idea that Boy A and Ana engaged in consensual sexual activity.  Glenwood House was probably used by young people for “romantic trysts”, given the presence of condom wrappers on the ground, he said.  Pathology evidence showed injuries to Ana’s genitals, but it couldn’t be established if these occurred through non-consensual activity.

 

Counsel added that it “can’t be ruled out” that a neck swab taken from Ana showing male DNA did not result from “casual intimacy”.

He said the case was based almost entirely on circumstantial evidence.  “This has to be very carefully weighed.”

 

The barrister said Boy A came from a “decent, hard-working family”.  This is not a defence, he said, but is highly relevant to determining if Boy A planned to kill.

 

There was no way Boy B would be stupid enough to call for Ana and walk her through a park full of CCTV cameras if he knew the plan was to murder her, counsel argued.

 

He also warned the jury against overinterpreting the material found on his client’s phone.

“We know young people have many devices and interests and frequently have unlimited ability to look for and find things of interest.  If you took any 13- or 14-year-old-boy and did a complete trawl through their devices, what are the chances that you find something, one or two small things, that are unpleasant?”

 

Referring to Boy B’s claim that Boy A said he wanted to kill Ana, counsel said there is nothing to suggest this was anything more than a joke.  Irish people tend to use “extravagant” language, Gageby said.  “Have your parents never told you they’d kill you if you come home late again?”

 

In any event, jurors couldn’t consider it as evidence against his client, because it had come from Boy B’s interview.

 

Colgan, in his closing speech for Boy B, repeated his criticisms of the nature of the Garda interviews.  He also suggested blame for Ana’s death lay squarely with Boy A.

 

There was no way Boy B would be stupid enough to call for Ana and walk her through a park full of CCTV cameras if he knew the plan was to murder her.  Boy B lied to Gardaí, counsel conceded, but he did so because he was traumatised by what he saw in Glenwood House.

 

He was also scared of Boy A, who was bigger and stronger than him and knew martial arts.

 

Colgan dismissed the references to the satanic club as “sensationalist” evidence.  He concluded by telling the jury they must find Boy B not guilty if they believed he had no knowledge of a plan to kill Ana.

 

 

JURY DELIBERATIONS AND VERDICT

Jurors began deliberating on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 12th.  They would remain out for a total of 14 hours and 24 minutes over the course of five days.

 

During deliberations there were few clues about what direction jurors were leaning.  Unusually, they did not come back with any questions about the law.  The only requests were to re-examine some exhibits, such as the bloodied stick, Boy A’s gloves and the Tescon tape.  They also asked for DVDs of seven of Boy B’s Garda interviews.

 

Jurors had been asked to consider the cases against the boys separately, but as time wore on it became clear that the verdicts would come together.  At 2.02pm on Tuesday, June 18th, word went around the second floor of the Criminal Courts of Justice that jurors had reached a verdict.  Gardaí and journalists rushed back to the Court, which, despite being closed to the public, seemed to fill up instantly.

 

 

Boy B sat with his eyes shut while clutching his mother’s arm.  He appeared to be doing breathing exercises.  Boy A’s father put his arm around his son.  “Have you reached a verdict on any of the counts?” the registrar asked the forewoman.  She replied that they had.  Her hand appeared to shake as she handed over the verdict paper.

 

Boy A was guilty of the murder and aggravated sexual assault of Anastasia Kriégel, the registrar announced.  Boy B was guilty of her murder.  The forewoman confirmed these were unanimous verdicts.

 

The courtroom was silent for about 30 seconds.  Boy A appeared to cry while Boy B held his head in his hands.

 

 

Boy B’s father began shouting.  A prison officer told his wife: “He’s too high.  He has to go out.”  The father slammed the courtroom door as he left, before returning a few seconds later and embracing his wife and son.  Boy A’s parents also wept and hugged their son but remained silent.

 

 

“You bunch of scumbags, you bunch of pricks … innocent boy,”  Boy B’s father said.  He clapped sarcastically at the Court as the two teens were led away.

 

 

Geraldine Kriégel sat with her eyes closed as the verdict was read out.  She and Patric remained calm and composed.  They stood and nodded to the jury as it left the room.  Some members appeared to smile and nod back.

 

 

The parents then embraced their friends before turning and hugging some of the Gardaí.  Patric even kissed one of the nearby journalists on the cheek.  They thanked the prosecution team before being led upstairs to join family in the victim-support area.

 

 

Before excusing them, Mr Justice McDermott thanked the jurors and excused them from further service for life.  “This has been a very difficult trial,” he said.  “I can’t offer you anything apart from, of course, sincere gratitude.”  He told jurors they were free to go and “get on with their lives”.  He reminded them that restrictions on them discussing the case or revealing the boys’ identities continued.  The restrictions on naming the boys also continued for everyone else, he said. 



Boy A and Boy B were remanded in custody to Oberstown until sentencing on July 15th, 2019.

 

 

In criminal trials there is a lot of talk about facts and the truth, but such trials are often not very good at finding either.  Instead they are effective at determining one very narrow question: is there enough evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt an accused committed an offence?  The jury in the trial of Boys A and B determined that there was.

 

 

But it could not determine why Ana was murdered.  And it could not determine why Ana was lured to an abandoned house and beaten to death.  It wasn’t the job of the jury to decide on the boys’ motivations.  That’s a job for any probation and psychological experts whom the judge may ask to assess the boys before he sentences them.

 

 

‘ANA LOVED TO DANCE’

Throughout the trial there was widespread public anger, much of it expressed on social media, that some of the most intimate details of Ana Kriégel’s life were being put on display while Boys A and B had complete anonymity.

 

Many wondered if the boys would be named on conviction.  They won’t be.  It will remain a criminal offence ever to identify them as Ana’s murderers.  The teens will continue to be known publicly as Boy A and Boy B, the terms journalists settled on just before the trial began.

 

We know from the evidence that, although Boy A is an unusual child, he had never been in trouble with the Garda and did not drink or take drugs.  He was tall for his age and skilled in martial arts.

 

He spent a lot of time online and liked horror movies, special effects and drawing. He also played a lot of video games.

His co-accused described him to Gardaí as “strange”, “weird” and “not a rational thinker”.

 

As for Boy B, several witnesses gave evidence that he was unusually bright.  He excelled at primary school, despite a lack of focus on academics in his home.  His marks started to drop at secondary school as he struggled with the increased homework.

 

He loved to make things with his hands and was regarded as particularly skilled with technology.  Like Boy A, he liked computer games but showed little interest in social media.  Twice his father had bought him a smartphone, and twice he had lost it.

 

Dr Humphries testified that Boy B prefers the company of younger children, as he finds them less demanding.  He described this as “unusual but not deviant in any way”.

 

Despite his father’s best efforts, Boy B did not like sport.  He preferred Pokémon and Japanese cartoons.

 

His father described him as someone who was “hungry for friendship” and believed everything his friends told him.

 

Humphries said he was friends with Boy A because it gave him “kudos”.  He said, “Doing things with [Boy A] made him a bigger presence.”

 

 

 

After his arrest Boy A called Boy B one of his best friends, a sentiment that was not mutual.  Boy B told Gardaí the two were not close friends, following a recent falling-out over a set of keys.  The Court heard evidence that he didn’t trust Boy A.  He told one friend he feared Boy A might “snake him” or set him up after the murder.  Before Ana’s body was found he cast doubt on Boy A’s claim that two unidentified men had caused his injuries.  Boy B told Gardaí he believed Ana caused the injuries.

 

The murder, or perhaps the investigation, seems to have been the end of any friendship between the two.  During the trial the boys appeared to make a point of not interacting; they sat separately and filed out of Court every day in separate groups.

 

 

We can say a lot more about Ana Kriégel.  Her mother said she was a girl who loved to dance.  She was part of the Leixlip-based troupe Dance LA, whose members, decked in red headscarves and silver sequins, formed a guard of honour at her funeral.  Ana “spent hours in our front room, listening to music, practising her moves”, her mother said.

 

 

We can say Ana was a great singer and wanted to learn how to play guitar.  We can say her Siberian strength and height made her an incredible swimmer.  We can say she loved to volunteer for things and, shortly before her death, agreed to model in a fashion show organised by older classmates to raise money for charity.

 

 

Ana never lost touch with her Russian roots.  A Russian flag and a matryoshka doll were placed on her coffin.  Geraldine and Patric had announced their adoption of Ana in 2006 by handing their friends a similar doll containing her picture.

 

 

We can say she also loved her holidays to France, symbolised by the presence of a miniature Eiffel Tower on her coffin.

 

 

And we can say Ana loved her family dearly and was loved dearly in return.  We can say she was someone who, as her funeral heard, was never happier than when she was curled up with her mother on a Sunday, “watching some beautiful fairy-tale-princess movie while munching her favourite food, popcorn”.