LOVE her or loathe her, former glamour model Katie Price was impassioned and articulate when she gave evidence to a Commons select committee about online abuse this week.

I am all for freedom of speech, and it is crucial to a functioning democracy, but social media has unleashed the darker side of humanity since its inception.

Price says she can’t even repeat on television the kind of vile abuse her son Harvey has faced, the sinister jibes, just because he is the mixed-race, disabled son of an outspoken celebrity.

He can’t speak to defend himself, so I will be his voice, she told reporters outside Parliament.

Seventeen-year-old Felix Alexander was so worn down by eight years of playground, then online bullies telling him that he was worthless and ugly that he stepped in front of a train. His heartbroken mother Lucy is now a leading light in the campaign against online bullying.

And there are dozens of similar, tragic, suicides. Why didn’t he just come off social media? Lucy was asked this countless times. But the simple fact is that it is so interwoven into our lives now that for a young person, it’s their social life, the only way they keep in contact with their friends.

I was resisting a mobile phone for my daughter but she’s already 11 and every girl in her class has a phone. She already feels isolated with a disability, and I didn’t want her to feel even more set apart.

However, I fear for her future. Smart phones and children are not a good combination.

I find it ironic sometimes that parents keep their children indoors for fear a paedophile will snatch them, when actually sitting at home in their bedroom on a phone or tablet is much more likely to result in danger.

At The Northern Echo, when we run stories about Muslims, or the traveller community, the greasy little keyboard warriors come out to spout hatred – so much so sometimes that we just can’t monitor the comments and have to close them completely.

Gypsy spokesman Billy Welch, whose family have lived in Darlington for more than 200 years, spoke out last week to say abuse against the travelling and gypsy community has become the last acceptable form of racism – and he’s right. Those cowards who probably wouldn’t dare say things to people’s faces – and they could well be prosecuted if they did – are free to abuse and demean with the blackest comments online.

It’s time it was made a crime. Katie Price had an idea of naming and shaming people who use the cloak of anonymity to spill the darkest parts of their souls – and it could be a good idea.

But proving it is another matter entirely.

Police resources are stretched beyond capacity.

They can’t keep up with the internet as it is. If online abuse is made a crime, they will need far, far more resources. And so I can’t see the government passing this law, or if they do under public pressure, I wonder how much teeth it will have.

It’s 100 years since women got the vote – yet today, in 2018, they are being put off going into politics because of the kind of threats and abuse they receive online. If we are to move forwards, not backwards, we need to tackle this issue.