What is it and where can you get help?
Cyberbullying is the use of electronic and digital means, particularly mobile phones, personal computers, email and internet use to deliberately harass, ridicule or hurt another. It can be an extension of face-to-face bullying with Information Communication Technology (ICT) used to deliberately hurt someone else.
“This is when instant messages, emails, text messages or webpages are used to spread rumours, make threats or harass. It can include written messages, photographs, video or messages.” Barnardos.
Cyberbullying can be perpetrated by one person or by a group of people. Cyberbullying can also be anonymous because people can pretend to be someone else online so they can hide their own identity and make it harder to get caught. Young people that are the target of Cyberbullying can feel isolated and alone particularly if they don’t know who is doing it.
WHY IS CYBERBULLYING IMPORTANT?
Communications technology has become omnipresent, it is everywhere. As a result, Cyberbullying can happen any time and any place and for many young people, there is no longer a hiding place from it. The more conventional types of bullying behaviour still exists and is far more prevalent than Cyberbullying and we must work hard to reduce the risk of bullying taking place among young people and continue to respond appropriately when we have concerns. Cyberbullying is increasing due to a range of reasons and all who work with young people must work hard to ensure we have the skills to be able to identify it and manage any cases that occur.
Young people that are involved in perpetrating Cyberbullying need to be informed that there may be legal consequences to their activity. Many young people are not aware of the legal implications that they may be subjected to for example sending inappropriate images by text or email. Whether a young person is a victim of or is perpetrating Cyberbullying there is a duty of care on all those who work with them to try to stop it from continuing and to get help.
HOW TO RESPOND TO CYBERBULLYING.
Watch out for the signs of bullying which can include changes in behaviour of a young person such as a reluctance to go online, getting nervous when receiving a text or displaying an unusual mood after being online. For more information on how to watch out for and how to respond to Cyberbullying check out the following resources.
- SpunOut.ie have developed a great resource to help young people understand the issues around Cyberbullying with tips on reporting and useful links to other resources. http://www.spunout.ie/health/Healthy-mind/Bullying/Cyber-Bullying
- Barnardos resource on Cyberbullying http://www.barnardos.ie/information-centre/young-people/teen-help/bullying/cyberbullying.html
- http://www.watchyourspace.ie provides youth friendly tips and video illustrations to help young people understand what Cyberbullying is and how to deal with it.
- For more serious cases of Cyberbullying do not hesitate to contact AN Garda Siochana for advice on how to deal with this effectively.