Words hurt

WORDS HURT

Cyber bullying illustration

Bullying is nothing new but now with such easy access to the internet and technology it’s taken on a really different form. We all know that bullies are just cowards. The newer breed of ‘cyberbullies’ are even more cowardly as they’re usually anonymous. The best way to get rid of a bully is to ignore them - even harder in the age of smart phones when we’re constantly connected to the internet.

Bullying is nothing new but now with such easy access to the internet and technology it’s taken on a really different form. We all know that bullies are just cowards. The newer breed of ‘cyberbullies’ are even more cowardly as they’re usually anonymous. The best way to get rid of a bully is to ignore them - even harder in the age of smart phones when we’re constantly connected to the internet.

A few weeks back we wrote about Paris Brown, the Police Youth Commissioner who stepped down after her controversial tweets were published. (Click here for the full story)The issues around cyber-bullying are similar. Basically, what you say online is permanent – it can be seen by everyone.

Cyberbullying is the use of mobile phones, e-mails, chat rooms and social media sites to harass or intimidate someone. The majority of cyberbullying cases are in young people and children. It’s not just confined to the young. There are many cases of cyber bullying in the workplace.

ASKFM

AskFM is a new social media site where users can ask other users questions.  More than 56 million people worldwide use the site. Unlike other social media websites there are no privacy settings. People can post questions anonymously making the site a magnet for cyberbullies.  To use the site you need to be 13 years old, but there is no way of monitoring this.  The majority of the users of the site are between13 and 25.

While some of the questions are innocent, under the veil of anonymity, AskFM has become the chosen tool for people who want to bully and intimidate others.  Since its launch in 2010 it has received a great deal of criticism.  It’s also been blamed for the suicides of 6 teenagers between 13 and 16 years old - including two Irish girls of 13 and 15, and a 15 year old English boy.

The fact is that a comment made online can have awful effects – remember that you never know what is happening in someone’s personal life.

‘SLUT SHAMING’ WHAT’S THAT ABOUT? slut shaming

Authorities have seen a rise in web pages they brand ‘horrific’. The emergence of ‘slut shaming’ pages rife on Facebook is the most recent form of cyber-bullying.  The pages aim to expose the sexual behaviour of young people.  Rumours can be posted to Facebook pages anonymously.  Charities and police services are being contacted more and more by young people who have been targeted on the sites and just don’t know what to do about it.

Some people have found pages about them using pictures from their own personal Facebook page coupled with offensive and degrading information.  Facebook has said that they do everything to get rid of pages like this as soon as possible. Often it’s too late and the damage has already been done.  It’s hard to measure how many people could have seen the page.

It could lead to your reputation being permanently damaged.  The harassment that some people face online is enough to make them move away from their home.  Some whole families are forced to relocate due to the harassment they face.  The act is nothing but malicious.  

NOT JUST GIRLS boy bullying

The ‘slut shaming’ phenomenon is mostly targeted at young women.  However cyberbullying is as much a problem for men as it is for women.  The term ‘internet troll’ has now worked its way into our everyday language.  ‘Troll’ refers to a person who purposely posts offensive comments on the internet in an attempt to shock and encourage arguments between others.  Some people considered ‘trolls’ are fairly harmless. Others make attacks on vulnerable people and even against the families of people who have died. 

Those who do this cannot be reasoned with. Any attempts to do so will just spur them on.  Their aim is to shock and make people angry.  Giving them attention is just giving them what they want.  They want to hurt people’s feelings and will not feel remorse.

WE REALLY REALLYMUST STOP CYBER
BULLYING post it stop bullying

To avoid being targeted by people online

  • Don’t post personal information like your address, email address or phone number on any website.
  • Make sure your privacy settings on your social media pages are the highest they can be.
  • Ensure your photos are only visible to your friends.

If you or a friend is a victim of cyberbullying:

  • Don’t retaliate. It will make it worse.
  • Unfriend, block and report anyone that sends offensive and nasty messages.
  • Save and print any evidence of bullying messages and pictures that you’re concerned about.
  • Make a note of the time and the senders ID to back up claims about cyber-bullying.  (send this to the site concerned)
  • If it is someone you know you know from school or college inform a teacher and get them involved. 
  • If you still feel threatened contact your local police service.
  • Serious physical and sexual threats should be reported to the police immediately.

As soon as you see anything you’re worried about online report it to either the site or if it’s serious enough, the police. Do so regardless of whether you know the victim.  We need to understand the seriousness of cyberbullying.  We all need to do all we can to stop it.