Erin, Ciara and Cyberbullying

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Teenage DiscoI remember being 13 – it was one of the years I enjoyed most in my life!

I was hanging around with a cool gang, I was discovering Deep Purple, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, I played football day and night – it was a time when we were gaining independence but without  too much responsibility and the “big” school exams were still  a few years away.

And of course there were the girls, the first disco’s (Highfield Rugby Club) …life was great!

Erin Gallagher - victim of cyber bullyingHow could the age of 13 end up being so different for Erin Gallagher in 2012?

I struggle to get my head around how she felt and how social media, something I enjoy so much could play a part in making her so miserable that she took a decision to end her beautiful life.

Just like Ciara Pugsley a few weeks earlier, taking her own life was her best solution to cope with what she was going through.

Social Media?

Of course social media isn’t to blame.

However social media unfortunately provides bullies (let’s face it – they have always existed) with more ammo, with a thicker skin and the ability to bully from a distance and often with a degree of anonymity.

This is why we have a responsibility to step up to the mark and go further than ever before to make sure that bullying is highlighted and that the bullies are stopped and exposed.

Parents & teachers

It’s no longer enough that we can plead ignorance and dismiss Facebook and the other social media platforms as being something for the young folk.

It’s no longer enough to ban our children from using the platforms – they will anyhow.

To protect our vulnerable children we need to jump in ourselves, learn and understand how these powerful and very useful social media platforms work, discover the risks and plan so that these can be managed and minimised.

Lead the way

We owe it to our kids to show them how to:

  • Set up their personal accounts properly
  • Maintain their privacy settings
  • Connect with “friends” safely
  • Think about what they post
  • Post appropriately
  • Spot and deal with inappropriate behaviour
  • “Unfriend” and Block certain users
  • Report Bullying

All of the functionality and procedures are in place to make this possible – learn about them.

Please download our “Safebook” poster , which is a simple aid for parents and teachers to help promote the responsible and safe use of Social Media and assist them in a bullying or inappropriate situation.

If our child is drowning they must know how to help themselves and must know when to ask for help.

Ciara Pugsley - victim of cyber bullyingWe owe it to the memory of Erin and Ciara, their parents, friends and families to take responsibility and help to make our exciting new world a great place for every 13 year old.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion provide Social Media Training and Consultancy in Cork and Dublin

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