Cyberbullying has a devastating impact which can destroy lives according to Gardaí who have issued advice to parents about managing access to digital content and what to do if their child is a victim.
Gardaí say cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person. Although more prevalent among young people, Gardaí say it can happen to anyone at any age. The police say it is intended to inflict harm or discomfort to others.
In Ireland, the Digital Age of Consent is 16. Young people under the age of 16 may not sign up for online services, such as social media sites, without the explicit approval of their parent or guardian.
Det Chief Superintendent Declan Daly, Garda National Protective Services Bureau, said cyberbullying can have a significant impact on people’s lives.
"The Garda Online Child Exploitation Unit is committed to tackling it in an impactful way," he said.
"If you do decide to give your child permission to use social media sites, the best online safety strategy is to talk with your child and engage with their use of the Internet,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Daly.
Tips for Parents and Guardians:
1. Know the sites your child visits, learn about the protections provided by these sites, apps and available on your child’s device.
2. Teach your child that whatever information is posted or shared online, will stay online.
3. Encourage your child to tell you if they receive messages that they feel disturbed by or uncomfortable with.
4. Discuss ways the child can deal with disturbing material should they accidentally come across it.
5. Implement the parental controls available on all IOS and Android devices.
6. If you find out your child is being bullied, print out and keep evidence of bullying and block the culprit. Then report the problem.
Detective Chief Superintendent Daly continued: "We wish to encourage victims of cyberbullying to report the bullies and provide us with the evidence to help ensure that other people do not become victims of this terrible behaviour.”
Reporting Cyber Bullying:
• Keep evidence, don’t delete anything.
• Save the messages or take screenshots.
• Stop all communication and block the person.
• Tell An Garda Síochána.
• Don’t delete the account as this evidence will help the Gardaí.
The Garda Online Child Exploitation Unit has these tips for young people:
Cyberbullying destroys lives. Stop and think before you post, anyone may see, forward, or screenshot that post.
Only post messages you wouldn’t mind your parents or teachers seeing. Remember whatever you share online stays there.
Contact your parent, guardian, teacher or an adult you trust if you are being bullied online. Do not respond to the bully, report it!
Online manners matter. Always treat others how you want to be treated, with respect.