Real-life friends can’t protect children from cyberbullying, warns expert
CHILDREN with friends have some protection from schoolyard bullies – but this does not protect them from cyber-bullying, a leading expert on online bullying said today.
Professor Mona O’Moore, of Trinity College Dublin, said girls were more likely to use texting as a means of cyber-bullying while boys rely more on cameras and video clips.
She said that recent research show that one in five young people – one in four girls and one in six boys – are involved in cyber-bullying, either as bullies, victims or bully victims.
Professor O’Moore was the keynote speaker at the conference, entitled “Screenagers – Using ICT, Digital and Social Media in Youth Work” organised by the National Youth Council of Ireland conference.
She predicted that with easier internet access, we will see a shift in preference for the different forms of cyber-bullying.
However, she stressed that traditional bullying is at least twice if not three times as common as cyber-bulling.
Professor O’Moore quoted the international heavyweight of bullying research Dan Olweus to state “cyber-bullying is an overrated phenomenon”.
However, she said that cyber-bullying like traditional bullying “prompts a strong reluctance on the part of young people to report it”.
Young people with high parental support and those with a good relationship with their parents are less likely to be involved in bullying, she said.
Professor O’Moore recommended that those working with youth should develop an anti-bullying policy, strengthen understanding of the phenomenon, work collaboratively with teachers and parents and improve the social environment to prevent cyber-bullying.
Also speaking at the conference, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said stressed that bullying “can be very damaging to those who fall victim to it.
Whether it occurs on or off line we all need to do whatever we can to tackle it. The problem is one of cruelty of some individuals to others”.
He suggested that bullying is a “complex issue – one that should be tackled from different angles – focusing on the perpetrators and on the victims.
In tackling the issue we will need to ensure that all young people have the skills they need in terms of social and digital interaction”.