At a pivotal U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, the room was filled with a palpable sense of urgency as parents, whose children have been affected or lost due to online harm, gathered to witness bipartisan discussions on child safety on the internet.
Among those lending support to these families is Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s The Archewell Foundation, which has been actively providing a network of support for parents grappling with grief and the mental health crises of their children triggered by harmful online content.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and co-founders of The Archewell Foundation, voiced their support, stating: “We applaud the bravery and determination of the thousands of parents around the country whose advocacy resulted in this hearing.
“Over the past few years, we have spent time with many of these families, listening to their heartache and their hopes for the urgent change that is needed in the online space.
“This is an issue that transcends division and party lines, as we saw today at the Senate hearing. The best parenting in the world cannot keep children safe from these platforms. As one of the fathers shared with us: ‘If love could have saved them, all of our children would still be here.’
“This is not the time to pass the buck of responsibility. It’s the time to make necessary change at the source to keep our children safe.”
This commitment by the Duke and Duchess to child safety online stems from a deeply personal place.
Meghan has previously shared her concerns as a mother, particularly during ‘The Archewell Foundation Parents’ Summit: Mental Wellness in a Digital Age’ in New York on World Mental Health Day last year.
With a reference to her own family life and young children, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet, Meghan expressed the complexity of her role as a mother in the digital age: “Being a mom is the most important thing in my entire life… outside of course, being a wife to this one [Prince Harry].
“But I will say I feel fortunate that our children are at an age, again quite young, so this isn’t in our immediate future, but I also feel frightened by how it’s continuing to change and this will be in front of us.”
She reflected on the swift passage of time in parenting, saying, “They say being a parent – the days are long, but the years are short. So it worries me, but I’m also given a lot of hope and a lot of energy by the progress we’ve made in the past year.”
Meghan also recounted the emotional encounters she had with families who suffered the immeasurable loss of their children, emphasizing the persistent and evolving challenge posed by social media.
The Senate hearing was a confluence of shared experiences and expertise, featuring not only the heartfelt stories of parents but also the insights of specialists and advocates like NBC’s Carson Daly, a board member of Project Healthy Minds.
The royals underscored the collective responsibility and the urgent need for positive reform to protect children from the dangers lurking behind screens.
The gathering was a crucial step in addressing the digital dilemmas that have intruded into family life, highlighting the need for society to listen, understand, and act to safeguard the mental wellness of the younger generation.