On Thursday 7th of May twenty four second year students along with their principal Mr. Cusack and teachers Ms. Giltenane and Ms. Greaney went to LIT for the Global StopCyberbullying Youth Summit. This was a two day event run by US charity, StopCyberbullying.org, to frame a plan to address cyberbullying in Ireland. One day was held in Limerick (LIT) on May 7th and the second was held in Dublin (Facebook Headquarters) on May 9th.
Many special guests attended the Summit including Carol Todd, mother of Amanda Todd, a 15 year old Canadian girl who took her life by suicide in 2012 because of being cyberbullied and blackmailed on the internet. Barbara Coloroso, one of the leading experts on bullying in the world, Mustafa Ahmed, a Canadian poet, Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan and Senator Tony Mulcahy.
There were many different workshops available for the students to attend such as understanding the risks and identifying Cyberbullying Profiles. The panel spoke about Special Risks: Vulnerable Groups, Victims of Sexual Abuse, Special-Needs, At-Risk Youth, Education, Legal Intervention, Raising Awareness, Cyberwellness, Digital Literacy, Support and Thinking about Justice.
The students from Coláiste na Trócaire learned about the five types of Cyberbullies. 1. The “Vengeful Angel”, 2. The “Power-Hungry” Cyberbully, 3. The “Revenge of the Nerds” Cyberbully (actually a sub-type of Power-Hungry that only happens online), 4. The “Mean Girls” Cyberbully, 5. The “Inadvertent Cyberbully” (Sometimes called the “Accidental Cyberbully”). Students also learned why young people cyberbully each other.
Cyberbullying is often motivated by anger, revenge or frustration. Sometimes cyberbullying is entertainment, when they are bored and have too much time on their hands and too many “Tech” toys available to them. Many do it for laughs to get a reaction. They may do it because they think it’s fun. And a growing number do it to make a point to others, to improve their ratings, popularity or video’s page views. They are looking for attention and their “15 megabytes of fame”.
The Power-Hunger cyberbullies do it to intimidate and control others. They want to be in charge. Revenge of the Nerd cyberbullies (a sub-type of Power-Hungry cyberbullies) may start out defending themselves from traditional bullying only to find that they enjoy being the tough guy or girl. Mean Girl cyberbullies do it to help bolster or remind people of their own social standing. Vengeful Angel cyberbullies think they are righting wrongs and standing up for others. Inadvertent cyberbullies never meant to hurt anyone. They did it by accident.
We also learned who is a typical cyberbullying target? Any child, preteen or teen is a potential cyberbullying target. They don’t need to have home internet access, a mobile phone or any cyber-connection. The cyberbullies are perfectly happy to have the technology to do their dirty work in destroying reputations or creating offline responses to online provocation. Obviously, when friends have falling out or romance takes a bad turn, cyberbullying is a viable option to settle scores and share hurt feelings. According to research and surveys, 70% of cyberbullying comes from friends or acquaintances.
We were also told about Digital Hygiene and Digital Self-Defence. Digital hygiene isn’t about electric toothbrushes and flossing devices. It’s about keeping your digital devices, accounts, personal information, files and access secure. You do that by using good security practices, using the right passwords and keeping them private and keeping an eye on your reputation online and off. Think of digital hygiene as digital self-defence.
Most Digital problems can be avoided if you prepare in advance. It is much harder to stop cyberabuse once it has begun than to prevent it in the first place.
We also learned all about keeping our devices clean, to ThinkB4uClick, Act Fast, and Keeping an Eye Out. How to Facebook, Google, Bing, Twitter, Instagram and Yahoo! Yourself – search for your whole name (in quotes to search for a phrase). Search for your phone number, screen name and email address. Search for your nicknames and home address. Then set an “alert”. Alerts send you a message any time the search engine finds this information online. The faster you know about something that is posted about you that shouldn’t be, the faster you can do something about it. Some posts on social networks don’t get picked up by search engines, so double checking there can help. Consider it an early warning system.
While you’re at it, keep an eye out to protect your friends and family members too.
Ms Olivia Giltenane
Pictured: Ola Wylenczek, Amy Kerins, Ms Giltenane, Minister for Education and Science Ms Barbara Coloroso, Richard Lynch and Klaudia Fasiczka at the Global Cyberbullying Summit held in Limerick.
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(This article contains copyrighted content of StopCyberbullying, authoried by Dr. Parry Aftab and is being used with her permission.)