SOUTH Down MP Margaret Ritchie spoke in Monday’s Westminster debate to draw attention to the increasing problem of cyber bullying.
Speaking in the debate Ms Ritchie said: “There is no doubt that cyber-bullying is perpetrated with a large degree of anonymity and distance, which makes it particularly frightening for children. With the increased use of smart phones there is simply no escape from this kind of bullying, at home, in school or on the way to school, and it can damage a child for life. It can lead to truancy, poor educational attainment, depression and, in the worst cases, self-harm and suicide.
“There is the vital need to raise awareness of this problem and to support parents and teachers who are having to deal with it on a daily basis. As it stands the law does not require schools to include cyber bullying in their anti-bullying policy and, surely, the local Education Minister needs to rectify this immediately to make such policies fit for the twenty first century.
“On a wider scale we need a legislative framework that can adapt to the modern world without restricting the opportunities offered by such technology. As well as government this will also require commitment from the major technology players such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to enable more anti-bullying protection within their applications. There is also an onus on these companies and the government to raise awareness of this issue using these newer platforms together with more traditional media.
“The internet and modern technology can open up a world of learning opportunities and resources to young people but we cannot be willfully blind to the negative side that they also bring.”]]>