independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Students and parents seek out advice on cyber-bullies

YOUTH workers are going all out to inform schools, sports and teenage clubs on the dangers of cyber bullying.

Since the tragic death of Erin Gallagher less than a fortnight ago, Donegal Youth Service (DYS) has been inundated with requests from across the north-west to inform teens about the perils of cyber bullying and how to address it.

Three DYS workers have given seminars on the issue at 10 secondary schools since the October bank-holiday weekend and another 30 are planned.

Lorraine Thompson of DYS said that since the death of the 13-year-old, the demand for their free seminars has increased immensely.

"Our staff are flat out in schools at the minute delivering the cyber-bullying seminars -- they are going out every morning to a school," she said.

"They have a list of 30 schools and clubs the length and breadth of the county and are off to the school on Aranmore island next week.

"The demands are coming in thick and fast from schools, youth reach and youth clubs -- that is coming from students and parents."

Separately, key presentations on cyber bullying will be made at the Psychological Society of Ireland's 42nd annual conference today.

Several researchers have warned that Ireland needs to radically re-think its anti-bullying and teen-support mechanisms in the wake of the escalating threat posed by cyber bullies.

Researchers -- including Danielle Farrell, Conor McGuckin, Moya Farrell and Suzanne Guerin -- have found that cyber bullying often involves former friends of the victim and that victims are often reluctant to inform a parent or teacher because of this.

Cork Institute of Technology researcher Shane Kearney also found that just one in six Irish students have their phone checked by their parents for signs of cyber bullying.

Donegal Youth Service can be contacted on 074-9129640 or by emailing yicletterkenny@donegalyouthservice.ie.

Irish Independent

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