Page 1 Seán kelly - Member of the EPP Group

Cyber-bullying - Background

A chara,

Cyber-bullying, or bullying by social media, has become an epidemic problem for parents, teachers, mental health/community liaison workers and has fuelled a national and EU debate on how to combat the issue especially following the spate of tragic suicides in Donegal and the midlands. Schools across the country have also experienced severe cases of Cyber-bullying.

Our youngest citizens face new social challenges in grappling with the new digital world and it is the responsibility of legislators, parents and educators to empower children and teenagers with the knowledge and skills to protect themselves online.

Cyber-bullying is one negative result from our increasing use of online technology. It has caused great anguish and sadness in the lives of some Irish teenagers with the most tragic consequences in some cases. We need to act now and examine ways in which we can support young people so they feel confident in their right to be treated respectfully, free from abuse in their daily interactions, online or offline. The most common problem that parents and those who work with young people often don’t fully understand how social media works and are threatened by it. It is also a new departure in bullying as unlike traditional bullying which can often be left at the school gate, cyber-bullying has the added intensity of not being restricted to just during the day, it has the potential to be a constant source of distress. The goal of the forum on Cyberbullying that I organised in Cork recently was to find solutions through open discussion of ideas with leading experts in areas such as teenage mental health, cyber law & child protection, the field of gaming & technology, social media outlets as Facebook, combating cyberbullying.

Open Forum

On January 18th, I hosted an Open Forum in Cork to discuss the issues, listen to the problems and identify solutions.

It is because of these new challenges, and the dangers inherent in the online world that I recently organised a Cyberbullying forum in Nemo Rangers, Cork in January. Please find below a summary of discussions we had. As a member of the Committee on Culture and Education and In my role as co-author of the European Parliament’s report on Data Protection, I am pushing forward measures to tighten internet regulations and introduce stricter school intervention policies to tackle Cyber-bullying. I am always available to discuss these and any other issue with you. If I can be of any assistance to you please do not hesitate to contact me. Le gach dea-ghuí,

Seán Contact Details: 4, Harbour House, Locke Quay, Dublin Road, Limerick Tel: 061 - 468788 Fax: 061 - 468780 Email:

Paidraig Cotter NUIM, Sean Kelly MEP

Check out my website: Find me on Facebook: Follow me on Twitter: Connect with me on LinkedIn:

Seán kelly - MEP of the Year for Research and Innovation The Experts • • • • • • •

Dylan Collins Moderator Anthony Whelan, European Commission, Head of Cabinet for Commissioner Neelie Kroes Patricia Cartes, Facebook Dr Aisling Parkes, Faculty of Law, UCC Avril Ronan, Trend Micro Dr Sinead McGilloway & Padraig Cotter, Department of Psychology, NUI Maynooth Sean Fallon,

The Findings Sean Kelly MEP

Action Action to tackle Cyberbullying requires an holistic approach encompassing homes, schools, community and social network outlets. Schools & Community Organisations • For Parents & Teachers Public awareness events organised by schools and youth-focused community groups are an essential means of building awareness, not just of the problem but how it can be tackled, educating them as to the tools for reporting, how cyberbullying is in reality bullying in a new guise. • For Young People Workshops and seminars organised by schools and community groups can help educate young people how best to stay safe online. Such forums are also an excellent way to show the perpetrators the serious effects that cyberbullying can have on a victim. Social Networks Social Networks play a crucial role in tackling this crisis head on. It is essential that they are proactive as well as reactive: Proactive: • generating and maintaining awareness of cyberbullying • providing open and easy-to-use reporting mechanisms Reactive: • effective process of following up on complaints • swift action to deal with instances of cyberbullying • providing a “complaint tracker” so victims can follow the process of their complaints Social Networks, as with the rest of the internet, have their advantages and disadvantages. They are at the frontier of an ever evolving matrix of human interaction. The phrase “block & report” is at the core of any anticyberbullying strategy. Social Networks need to build confidence in their complaint procedures so that when a cyberbullying victim “blocks & reports” that can be sure that action will be take. Social Networks should strive to educate not just their users but the wider community of their policies, procedures and the tools they provide to counter abuse including cyberbullying.

Awareness! Awareness! Awareness! • The recurring feedback from parents, teachers, and all those who work with our young people was: “how do we as parents, teachers, etc actually address this, what should we be doing?” Education is Crucial • The lack of awareness amongst parents and teachers of life online is the most serious problem. • Lack of familiarity and about why young people are online, the dangers as well as the upsides. • Tackling this is best done providing information and education about how life online is conducted. Providing information enables parents and teachers to deal with cyber-bullying and in time help to prevent it. • The gap in digital or online knowledge between many parents and education professionals is very wide, narrowing this is key towards raising understanding and awareness of the issues. • Education of parents, teachers and young people is critical to ensure the responsible and safe use of the internet. In School & At Home • School anti-bullying policies are an important foundation but need to be reinforced throughout the school year • Cyberbullying is a behaviour -young people have choices and technology is only a medium not a cause. • Education needs to happen both in the school environment and the home in order to promote and reinforce the importance of the safe use of the internet. • Fostering open communication between young people and their parents/teachers is the most effective way to tackle any issue • Sitting down with kids and creating rules with them really engages them. Treating them as mature young adults engages them and encourages them to “buy-in” to rules Peer to Peer • Young people relate best to each other • When empowered with the right tools and mentoring, friends provide a great support network and can become an integral part of the solution, encouraging positive change amongst each other. • this can occur in many different settings from the very informal to a structured sharing of views, experiences and tips between peers.

Internet Service Providers & Mobile Phone Companies Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are the companies which enable us to get online. Everyone is online thanks to a contract with an Internet Service Provider. They must play a major role in tackling cyberbullying, as they are, uniquely, connected to every internet user. They can play a significant role in raising and maintaining awareness, through simple steps such as providing easy to understand information to consumers regularly Similarly, mobile phone providers can contribute to addressing this issue. If someone is being harassed by text or over the phone, phone providers can block the source This needs to be publicised and a simple, easy-to-navigate mechanism put in place.

Seán Kelly with speakers (L-R) Anthony Whelon (European Commission), Patricia Cartes (Facebook), Sean Kelly MEP, Dr Aisling Parkes (UCC), Sean Fallon ( Padraig Cotter (NUIM) Avril Ronan (Trendmicro)

Patricia Cartes Facebook and Sean Fallon

Paidraig Cotter NUIM, Sean Kelly MEP

Ian Power speaking during Q&A

Seán Kelly MEP with Cllr Mairéad Fernane Seán kelly - Member of the EPP Group


Dr Sinead McGilloway NUIM speaking

European Level Cyberbullying is not a uniquely Irish phenomenon, there are two major moves ongoing at European level: The European Commission’s Strategy for a Better Internet for Children and the overhaul of Data Protection laws. Today, children in Europe start using the Internet on average when they are 7 years old. One in three go online via mobile phones, game consoles or other mobile devices. At the same time, many young children say there are not enough good things for kids their age to do online. Children need quality content online to stimulate their imagination and help them learn. They need the skills and tools for using the Internet safely and responsibly and the European Commission’s Strategy for a Better Internet for Children is central to ensuring that at a pan-European level. The total reform of the European Data Protection regime, which I authored the European Parliament Report on, represents an opportunity to tackle these issues head on. I have placed protection of young and vulnerable people online at the core of my report which will be incorporated into the final incorporated into the new data protection rules

Seán kelly - MEP of the Year for Research and Innovation

Seán Kelly MEP Cyber-bullying Newsletter  

Seán Kelly MEP Cyber-bullying Newsletter