Brianna Ghey’s mother has said she would be open to meeting the mother of her daughter’s killer to tell her she “does not blame her for what her child has done”.
The 16-year-old transgender girl was stabbed to death in a Warrington park last year by two teenagers who watched torture videos on the dark web.
On Friday, Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, both 16, were sentenced to life in prison for the “exceptionally brutal” killing which the judge said was partly motivated by Brianna’s transgender identity.
Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, Esther Ghey called for children under 16 to be banned from accessing social media apps. She said she did not “carry any hate” for the killers, but did not forgive them.
And she said she would be open to speaking to Jenkinson’s mother, who she said looked “completely broken” and was “going through an absolutely horrific time”.
“I’d like to understand more how their life was and what they went through. I also want her to know that I don’t blame her for what her child has done,” she said.
“I want her to know that I understand how difficult being a parent is in this current day and age with technology, and phones, and the internet, and how hard it is to actually monitor what your child is on.”
Ghey has launched a campaign to push for legislation that would mean under-16s could only have child-safe phones which do not have access to social media, and which would automatically flag searches for harmful content to a parent’s phone.
She said: “I’d like to see mobile phone companies take more responsibility. It’s so difficult for parents now to safeguard their children, they carry a mobile phone in their pocket 24/7 and it’s just so difficult to keep on top of what they’re doing.
“So we’ve set up a petition, which we’d like all families and parents to back and sign. We’d like a law introduced so there are mobile phones that are suitable for under-16s.
“Also to have software that is automatically downloaded on the parent’s phone, which links to the children’s phone, and it can highlight key words. So if a child is searching the kind of words that Scarlett and Eddie were searching, it will then flag up on the parent’s phone.”
She said she believed such measures would have kept Brianna safe, as her killers wouldn’t have been searching harmful material, and if they did, their parents would have known and “been able to get them some kind of help”.
Responding to Ghey’s proposals, the education secretary, Gillian Keegan, said the government was looking to ban smartphones in all schools.
“There’s many schools that do this already, but there’s others that feel this is difficult, because it does end up being a tussle between the child, and the teacher or the parent,” she said.
She also said the recently passed Online Safety Act had tools to tackle the issues raised, including age verification checks for inappropriate material.
Labour’s Peter Kyle, the shadow science secretary, said the UK needed “to start getting ahead of the curve” on technology that posed a threat to young people.
“It is clear that social media is bringing together people with harmful values potentially on a journey towards criminal activity, and [tech firms] might well have known this,” he said.
“We’ve got to make sure the powers that already exist are in place as quickly as possible. It’s taken five years for this bill [the Online Safety Act] to get on the statute, it’s taken far too long.”