herald

Monday 11 December 2017

Online bullying website to tackle abuse for teens

Mona O'Moore
Mona O'Moore

A new online forum for children and teens, the first of its kind in the country, has been set up to combat both cyber and traditional bullying.

Research carried out by the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre at Dublin City University found that children who are being bullied feel helpless, isolated and unable to turn to someone for help.

The online forum is called tacklebullying.ie.

Extensive research by the university prior to setting up the website found that up to 70pc of children aged from 12 to 16 years old are involved in both traditional and cyberbullying.

Girls were also found to be  bullied more in both forms.

More than 3,000 children aged from 12 to 17 took part in this national survey, which was conducted in 2012 and 2013. Some 1,009 girls and 1,995 boys were involved in the research.

Worryingly, 17.2pc of boys use video clips to cyberbully, while 12.2pc of girls get involved in the practice.

DCU researchers also found that the “double whammy” of both cyber and traditional bullying can lead to a higher suicide rate.

Researchers also found that 39pc of girls and 30pc of boys reported that they had witnessed someone being cyberbullied.

The website is funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs with National Lottery Funds.

It encourages teens to share their experiences with their peers. 

While the forum will encourage peer-to-peer conversation, all posts will be monitored by professionals and an option to directly contact one of the moderators is available to those who have a serious issue they would like to discuss.

If the moderator is not able to provide the user with the information needed, they will then be put in touch with a senior moderator for further support.

Posts of a more serious nature will be automatically forwarded to senior moderators to deal with.  

The website and other findings on cyberbullying will be included in a book, Understanding Cyberbullying – a guide for Parents and Teachers.

Dr Mona O’Moore, the book’s author, said: “We have found that children online and offline feel helpless, isolated and unable to turn on someone for help.

“One in four girls and one in six boys are being bullied, our research shows. Cyberbullying doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” Dr O’Moore said.

Psychological

“It runs alongside traditional bullying and what we also found is that there is a role reversal – which means that children suffering traditional bullying can turn into cyberbullies.

“These turn into tit-for-tat bullying situations. What is not yet crystal clear is the psychological mindset involved.

“But people shouldn’t mix up cyber aggression, which is normally a once off, and cyber bullying, which is repetitive.

“This is where this unique online forum can help. This and the book arise out of many years of research on bullying at the Anti-Bullying Centre and signify our commitment to transforming our research into practical resources,” she said.

hnews@herald.ie

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