Combatting cyber bullying is everyone’s responsibility

Parents need to make sure that children are neither the victims nor the perpetrators of bullying behaviour.

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Wednesday) said that combatting the growing abuse of children online is the responsibility of teachers, parents and the children who are aware that it is being carried out.

“In recent months we have witnessed a spate of tragic deaths of young girls, that have been linked to campaigns of cyber-bullying and abuse of these children at the hands of their peers. It is incumbent on all of us to get to grips with this and to ensure that this targeting of vulnerable people does not go unabated.

“First and foremost, we need to open up the conversation with our children that bullying should not be tolerated and that any attempts at bullying should be reported to a teacher, a parent or a trusted adult in authority. This should be the case, not only where the child is experiencing harmful and threatening behaviour directly, but if he/she is aware that another child is being victimised.

“Children should also be encouraged not to engage with bullies, but to block the sender and to save any evidence which can be used to build a case.

“Where teachers and parents are concerned, we must clearly relay to children the consequences that bullying can have on a child’s life. Children must be made aware that threatening behaviour will not be tolerated and that children may be held accountable, in the home and with the authorities, for the unthinkable outcomes of what they may perceive to be a bit of harmless fun.

“In addition to keeping a close eye on our children to ensure they are not being victimised, we must also ensure that they themselves are not the perpetrators of bullying behaviour. By employing the traditional values of the 4Ws; Where is your child? Who are they with? What are they doing? And at what time will they be home?; parents should be able to monitor their children’s activities.

“Bullying is an age-old problem which it is naïve to think we will ever completely eradicate. What we must do, however, is to work together to highlight the extreme outcomes for which bullying behaviour can sometimes be responsible. It is time to lift the lid of secrecy on bullying so that our children have the confidence to report it, allowing them to get on with a stress-free and bully-free childhood.”

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