Cyberbullying & Inappropriate Content

WHAT IS CYBERBULLYING?

Cyberbullying is the use of electronic and digital means to deliberately harass, ridicule or hurt another person or group of people. It can be an extension of face-to-face bullying when technology such as social media platforms, text messages or email are used to deliberately hurt others.

Sometimes it can be difficult to identify who is perpetrating the bullying as the identity can be hidden or the person can use a fake identity. It can involve the following…

  • Offensive comments on videos or message posts
  • Publishing images that are designed to hurt or offend a person
  • Identity theft or hacking in to a young person’s profile to impersonate them
  • Online threats of harm or abuse

The bullying can be perpetrated day and night with no break for the person who is being targeted. The behaviour can extend to many platforms that the perpetrator has access to and the target can experience feelings of being trapped, isolated and unable to make it stop.

Recognising cyberbullying

Cyberbullying signs or indicators can include changes in behaviour such as a reluctance to go online, getting nervous when receiving a text or display unusual mood after being online. A young person may talk about what is happening to them or what they are observing online among others that they have concerns about. You may observe a young person searching online for answers to it. You may also observe young people bullying other people online that you can’t ignore.

How to respond to cyberbullying

Please follow your child protection policy for reporting and responding to child protection and welfare concerns. The advice and guidance form your DLP, Tusla and if necessary the Gardaí will provide the support that may be required. There may be help from the mobile phone company, internet service provider or social media company that you can access to prevent the bullying from continuing.

The following steps are recommended to support young people responding to Cyberbullying

Don’t Reply

The young person may really want to but encourage them not to rise to it and don’t reply to messages from someone who is bullying them. They may move on if they don’t get a reaction.

Save the Evidence

Take a screenshot as proof and save it.

Report or Block

The young person can block people from contacting them. They can also report the person. Phone companies, social media companies and internet service providers provide advice on how to block and report. The Gardai and Tusla also receive reports and can assist with the response.

Get Help

Encourage young people to get help from a trusted adult such as their parent, youth worker, teacher, family friend or healthcare professional. There are helplines available through Childline or Samaritans they can call so that they are not alone when dealing with this.

Go Offline

Switch off or take a break from being online and talk to someone who can help.

Change Contact Details

Changing the phone number, passwords or contact details can be a big step but sometimes it can be an effective way to stop the behaviour. Restrict who has access to them can be useful for a period of time particularly if they are trying to identify who is the perpetrator.

Update Settings

Ensure security settings are private on all platforms.

Recognising cyberbullying

For more information on how to watch out for and how to deal with Cyberbullying do a search on the following websites as they contain lots of really useful and easy to access resources to help you find answers to questions.

Check out Spunout.ie’s Don’t be a bystander clip as a useful resource to discuss with young people

Inappropriate content

The internet is a wide space that has endless amount of content that can enhance the life experience of young people. It does also contain content that can be very harmful to young people. Youth organisations need to be aware of what the dangers are and how to keep the young people that are online in their service safe.

  • Requests from people asking for personal details such as addresses, phone numbers, bank account information.
  • People making inappropriate sexual suggestions, racist remarks or requests for young people to take photos/video footage of themselves in undressed suggestive poses and being asked to post them online.
  • Bullying behaviour that is once off or consistently perpetrated towards another.
  • Pornographic images of any kind.
  • Being asked to share your password with someone you don’t know.
  • Being asked to meet up with someone you don’t know.
  • Age inappropriate games that young people are accessing.
  • Young people need to know what the dangers are so it is better that they are informed of what the dangers are so they can make informed decisions.
  • Don’t assume that young people won’t come across pornography while surfing the internet.
  • Agree limits with the young people that they spend online while at the youth service/club.
  • Ask the young people to take regular screen breaks so that they give their eyes a rest.
  • Challenge them not to share any photographs with anyone that they would not share with you.
  • Agree with the young people that they don’t give out any personal information about themselves to people they don’t know or trust i.e. phone numbers, their address etc.
  • Keep webcams in a safe place and ensure you monitor how they are used in the organisation.
  • Promote who they can go to if they have a problem by using posters, stickers or on the home page of the organisation’s website.
  • Advise young people to keep any game chats within the game and not to go to private chat rooms.
  • Inform them that the person they are playing against/with may not be who they say they are.
  • Find out what the recommended breaks are from playing games on screen and agree this with the young people. This will promote their health and encourage them to be mindful of their own welfare.
  • Find out what the parental control system is on the gaming console that you have and activate it to ensure it is operating as safe as possible.
  • Check out the content descriptor that should be included in the description of the game that will detail the various elements of the game that you need to be aware of i.e. gambling/violence/language/sexual innuendo and if there is an online element to it too.
  • Check out the age rating that the game is suitable for and ensure that the young people access the games that are appropriate to their age.
  • Note: Some advice sourced from CEOP – UK.
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