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'Slagging' culture link to bullying

IRELAND'S traditional love of 'slagging' may be contributing to internet banter that can dangerously escalate to cyber-bullying.

A new study has revealed that cyber-bullying is often dangerous because it involves a victim's friends and offers little escape because of mobile phone and social media access.

The study is likely to spark a radical rethink of anti-bullying measures by schools, sports and community groups and Government agencies.

The study also found that access to social media sites -- including controversial chatrooms like Ask.fm -- is at a much younger age in Ireland than first understood.

One Dublin primary school was shocked to discover that 100 students, all under 13, had Facebook accounts. The study found that so-called 'cyber banter' on internet chat rooms can easily escalate to bullying.

The study, conducted among Dublin teens, forms one of the central issues of the Psychological Society of Ireland's 42nd annual conference.







Deaths

It has been released amid national concern over the scale of cyber-bullying following the high-profile deaths of Erin Gallagher (13) in Donegal and Ciara Pugsley (15) in Leitrim over the past three months.

Researchers have warned that Ireland needs to radically rethink its anti-bullying and teen support mechanisms.

The researchers found that:

•Bullying often involves former friends of the victim.

•Victims can be targeted initially because of often trivial school disputes.

•Victims are often reluctant to inform a parent or teacher because the bully is a former friend.

•Those who engage in cyber-bullying often regard it as 'funny' and not dangerous.

However, the impact of cyber-bullying has been radically increased by the emergence of the social media and sites such as Ask.fm, which offer bullies the shield of anonymity.

The study has also shown that cyber-bullying is more common among teenage girls than boys.

hnews@herald.ie


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