IT has taken five years, but after countless hours of campaign work and support from the public, the NSPCC has finally welcomed the passing of the Online Safety Bill.

I’ve written about the Bill on these pages many times but it’s ground-breaking legislation that will radically change the landscape for children online. It means tech companies will now have a legal duty to protect children from sexual abuse and harmful material on social media sites, gaming apps and messaging services.

The Government first promised regulation to help protect children online at the NSPCC’s annual conference in 2018, following the launch of our Wild West Web campaign asking for laws to make social media platforms protect young users online. Since then at least 7,380 people in Yorkshire have signed the petition.

Last month, the NSPCC revealed 34,000 online grooming crimes were recorded by UK police over the years the legislation has been discussed, including more than 2,600 in our region.

This marks a new era for children’s safety at a time when online child abuse offences are at a record high and children continue to be bombarded with harmful suicide and self-harm content on social media.Its importance was starkly highlighted by the inquest into the death of 14-year-old Molly Russell in September last year, which ruled that the self-harm and suicide content that Molly had been recommended on social media had contributed to her death.

Locally, the Bill has seen support from survivors of childhood abuse, including Louise (not her real name) who was abused between the ages of 11-17 and has used that experience to push for real change to prevent others going through similar abuse.She said: “The effects of his abuse cannot be overstated. I had become so beaten down and traumatised that I attempted suicide on two separate occasions. He robbed me of my teenage years and of the memories I was meant to have. It is of the utmost importance that children have voices, both governmental and otherwise, that champion their safety on the internet. Children have the right to be safe online.”

This is a momentous occasion for children and will finally result in ground-breaking protections they should expect online. But we would not be welcoming it without the hard work and support of everyone who supported the campaign, bereaved parents and thanks to the courage and dedication of people like Louise who have helped ensure this legislation leads to real-world change for children across the country.