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How to protect your children in cyber bully war

THEY'RE making life a misery for thousands of teenagers -- many of whom fear there's no escape.

Cyber bullies prey on their victims via text messages or on the internet, using technology to spread lies or abuse about individuals.

But now a campaign has been launched to stop the spread of the frightening phenomenon.

The Carphone Warehouse and Professor Mona O'Moore of the Anti-Bullying Centre in Trinity College have come together to highlight the risks posed by cyber-bullying and offer tips for parents to prevent and deal with it.



SIGNS

A recent study showed one in four girls was affected by cyber-bullying, and as many as one in six boys were suffering harassment. But experts say parents can help protect their children.

Professor O'Moore urges parents to look out for the signs that their child is being bullied.

"Talk to your child or teen about cyber-bullying. Do not wait until it happens. Inform yourself about how you can help to prevent or counter it. Make use of blocking devices," she said.

"Most importantly reassure your child and teen that you are there for them as there is no shame in being bullied. The problem lies with the bully."

The trend came to the country's attention in 2008 when 18-year old Leanne Wolfe took her own life. The Cork teen kept a diary detailing the harassment she suffered on websites and by phone.

Phoebe Prince (15), an Irish girl, took her own life after moving to Boston in the US earlier this year, where she was regularly bullied in her new school.

Professor O'Moore said "Parents can make a difference by looking out for the signs of cyber-bullying such as a child becoming withdrawn, moody or depressed, and by taking action when they suspect that their child or teen is a target -- or indeed, is getting at someone else in an abusive and intimidating manner."

All 76 Carphone Warehouse stores are issuing leaflets on cyber-bullying, as well giving a special offer on the vMad.com Bully Stop application.

When the f5 application it is downloaded to a child's phone, parents can control who calls or sends them texts.

cmcbride@herald.ie


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