Tuesday 12 November 2019

The terrible tragedy of online bullying

Another schoolgirl has taken her own life after receiving hate messages from cyber-bullies. Erin Gallagher, of Ballybofey, Co Donegal, had posted a reply to them on Friday, one day before her death, threatening suicide. She was 13 years old.

It is easy for minds to imagine, but impossible for words to describe, the effect of this dreadful event on her family, her friends and classmates, and the people of Ballybofey.

It occurred only six weeks after the death of 15-year-old Ciara Pugsley in Dromahair, Co Leitrim -- another suicide that left a small town shocked and feeling helpless.

In Ciara's case, the motive for the bullying appeared to have been envy. But clearly this widespread and frightful practice can be aimed at almost anybody. Clearly, too, and very sadly, it appears appallingly difficult to control.

Ciara's father wants politicians to act to improve safety for children online. Certainly that should be a matter for urgent attention by politicians, and by companies like Facebook, but everybody can help.

The prettiest girl, the smartest boy, the lonely child: anyone can be a victim. Friends and teachers should watch out for warning signs, of which there are many. They are innocent and baffled, but they are not helpless.

Irish Independent

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