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Nottingham Post
Nottingham Post
Dan Warburton

Archie Battersbee's mum speaks out against online trends that put son in coma

Hollie Dance, Archie Battersbee's mother, has accused social media giants of failing to tackle deadly online challenges like the one that left her son in a coma. The 46-year-old said she believes there have been other deaths linked it, with many more left brain damaged.

Archie, 12, spent more than four months in a coma after he suffered brain damage in an incident at home in Southend, Essex.

He died on August 6 when medics withdrew life support.

Speaking to the Mirror, in her first exclusive newspaper interview since Archie died, Hollie, who fought in the courts to keep her son alive, said: “The social media companies don’t do enough to stop harmful content online.

“It’s out there and people are grooming our children to do these challenges, it’s disgusting. The people – they’re often adults, not children – who are demonstrating these challenges are sick.”

She said: “This is a grown man demonstrating this ‘trick’ to children. Those people need to be held accountable. The police and the Government need to work together to stop this.”

Several reports of lethal or dangerous online challenges have emerged since Archie’s case.

There have been calls for the UK Government to do more to stop further tragedies. Liberal Democrat digital spokesman Jamie Stone criticised delays to the Online Safety Bill.

Mr Stone said: “It’s more than four years since Conservative ministers promised new laws to tackle online harms, but we’re still waiting. We need clear, tough laws.”

Archie pictured with his mum (PA)

But a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokeswoman said: “The Online Safety BIll will force tech firms to protect children from dangerous viral stunts. Failing firms will face huge fines or have their sites blocked.”

Hollie is determined no-one should suffer like her son and his family. She said: “That’s the legacy I want for Archie. I want to protect kids and the loved ones left behind. It’s unbearable.” She found Archie unconscious at their home in Southend, Essex, on April 7, and gave CPR before he was taken to hospital. He was transferred to the Royal London Hospital, where medics declared Archie “brain-stem dead”.

The Barts Health NHS Trust went to court, saying it was not in Archie’s “best interests” to continue treatment.

For weeks, Hollie and Archie’s dad, Paul Battersbee, 56, appealed through the courts. But their battle was in vain and life support was withdrawn on August 6. Hollie said: “The morning Archie died I told him how much I loved him.

“At midday they took his pipe out. It took 15 minutes for his heart to stop. There was nothing ‘dignified’ about his death. It was heartbreaking, watching your child suffocate. That image will never, ever leave me.”

Archie’s family will now campaign to change laws covering life support.

Hollie wrote to Health Secretary Steve Barclay saying: “Depriving disabled children of their right to life because of their disability is unacceptable.”

Andrea Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre, which supported Hollie’s case, said: “We need a better system.”

Despite the tragic outcome, Hollie does not regret fighting in the courts. She said: “I wouldn’t have changed a thing. That legal challenge bought us five extra months with my child.”


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