Thursday, September 2, 2010
Yesterday the Carphone Warehouse, partnering with Professor Mona O’Moore of the Anti-bullying Centre in Trinity College, launched a campaign to highlight the risks posed by cyber-bullying. The campaign offers tips to parents to prevent and deal with the different ways that children might suffer from cyber-bullying.
Cyber-bullying is when a person or group makes use of electronic communication devices, particularly mobile phones and the Internet to deliberately harass, intimidate or humiliate another individual. According to The Handbook of Aggressive Behaviour Research, one in four girls (24%) and one in six boys (16%) in Ireland have been involved in cyber-bullying either as a victim, bully or both. These incidents ranged from threats, insulting and embarrassing or humiliating messages, to pictures or video clips. The bullying itself can be prejudice based, expressing racist, sexist, homophobic and other forms of discrimination. Text messaging is the most common form of cyber-bullying among both boys and girls in Ireland with over 57% of all cyber-bullying incidents originating from mobile phones. Nearly one third of girls (31.4%) and over one fifth of boys (22%) in Ireland reported receiving nasty text messages in and out of school.
The campaign features an information leaflet that is available in the 76 Carphone Warehouse stores nationwide and a special offer on the vMad.com Bully Stop application. Now retailing at just €5 (RRP €20) this application is downloaded to a child’s phone allowing parents to control who calls or sends them text messages. Parents can view the content of any blocked text or call and ensure that their child will not be bullied via their mobile phone.
Professor O’Moore commented on the launch of the campaign, saying “Cyber-bullying must not be treated lightly as it can destroy a child or teen’s emotional and social life as well as causing them to dislike school and to underperform academically. Parents can make a difference by looking out for the signs of cyber-bullying such as a child becoming withdrawn, moody or depressed, and taking action when they suspect that their child or teen is targeted or indeed, is getting at someone else in an abusive and intimidating manner. Talk to your child or teen about cyber-bullying. Do not wait till it happens. Inform yourself about how you can help to prevent or counter it. Make use of blocking devices. Most importantly reassure your child and teen that you are there for them as there is no shame in being bullied. The problem lies with the bully. It is critical that your child or teen knows that it is wrong to bully and equally what steps they need to take should they ever experience cyber-bullying.”