Sunday 23 October 2016

Battling the cyber bullies

Published 03/11/2012 | 17:00

SOMETIMES parents feel helpless when trying to grapple with the issues and problems that surround rearing teenagers.

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They would have felt particularly helpless this week as the horror of the circumstances surrounding the death of Donegal schoolgirl Erin Gallagher (13), who took her own life after serial online bullying.

While bullying can be found in every facet of society, there is something particularly insidious and malicious about the sort of abuse that is conducted down a fibre-optic cable.

All bullies are cowards and inadequates but those who cower behind laptop screens, as they disseminate their poison, are particularly odious.

Yesterday, we were given reason to believe that all is not lost. Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald announced that she is to put pressure on controversial Latvian social media website

The site has been linked to two recent teen suicides in Ireland and has been strongly criticised for facilitating anonymous cyberbullying.

The minister is also asking Latvian authorities to take appropriate action, and has requested Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore to take the matter up with his Latvian counterpart.

She also raised the issue of internet safety directly with senior management at Facebook, the world's largest social network.

While others were simply wringing their hands and saying the internet was out of control and impossible to police, the minister took firm action. Our children deserve to be protected and we are voting on a very specific referendum in this regard in a week's time.

But sometimes quick, authoritative action is what's needed.

Ms Fitzgerald deserves our gratitude.

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