Erin, Ciara and Cyber Bullying

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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15 Responses to “Erin, Ciara and Cyber Bullying”

  1. Paul Ryan Says:

    Not too sure if you have teenage kids but your post is ideal world stuff Greg and it doesn’t happen that way ! Bully’s are inventive low life’s and they will always find a way

  2. ailbe o'reilly Says:

    Well said Greg. Its very tragic.

  3. Emer Tobin Says:

    Greg, well done, some great points. However, lets not have the buck stop with parents and teachers! If we all keep an eye out on the younger folk, regardless of our own responsibilities, I’m sure we’ll spot something and prevent unwelcome behaviour.

  4. Siubhan Says:

    Greg, I am a huge ( if distant) admirer of your brand of ‘cop-on’ . I also had a fantastic 13th year and after reading this post, I read it aloud to my family ( including teenagers). A good discussion ensued and our bottom line is this…..

    Parents PLEASE parent!! Forget all this notion of ‘they are my best friend’ and realize they are YOUR children and today, as a parent you need to tune into and understand social media….. Facebook, twitter … You don’t get it ? Stick at it ! You will!

    Children need parents (& I’m not distinguishing between biological, adoptive or circumstantial here) , kids just need those ‘parents’ to require respect from their children and as parents we need to return that respect to our children. Dont be afraid , set boundries , say ‘no’ occasionally( & stick to it) , its not the easy route but its the route that works. Teach your kids hat there is a difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour…. apologise when you get it wrong, truly listen when they have something to tell you.

    This to me is the way that kids learn that they are worthy of respect and their friends are too. Social media may mean very little to you but as a 13 year old in Ireland today it can represent the ENTIRE WORLD. If you’ve got kids who are spending hours & hours online then you MUST take it almost as seriously as your kids.

    My heart breaks for these beautiful children and their poor families. They are lying in cold graves tonight rather than in the warm glow of their families love, it’s beyond heartbreaking. No family should ever have to suffer this nightmare.

    One of my kids had her own bullying issues in the past where her best friends turned against her and were continually ‘teching her lessons’ ‘for her own good’ , we listened, we talked, we tried to help, it’s such a worrying and frustrating issue. The bottom line was all we could do as parents was tell her that these girls were not respecting her & weren’t worth her respect (or love) … (she knew how respect worked- she’d seen it at home)….eventually she removed herself from the space and has turned out a confident young woman who always stands up for her friends if they are being compromised. If her first group of ‘friends’ had known about respect and how to stand up for what’s right then she would never have been bullied in the first place.

    Guys, please, please listen to Greg! The very least that you can do is acquaint yourself with the social networking skills listed above ( it’s not rocket science) , you know you’ll be doing something to protect your kids online & who knows you might just enjoy it.


  5. Grainne Moroney Sherlock Says:

    As the mother of a child going through bullying at the moment these bullies are persistant and non relenting in their attacks and this in itself is what causes the most stress ……. my son said he is frustrated and he just doesnt understand why they do it luckily he is not afraid of them but just wants to get on with being a child !! …. Great insights though Greg I get what you are saying.

  6. Noel Kehoe Says:

    Thank you Greg for this excellent poster and blog. We at Scala are desperately trying to find responses to the tragedy of cyber bullying and this gives us excellent resources to build awareness among the many young people we work with. We will also forward this onto schools.

    Great work and thank you.


  7. Mai Harris Says:

    Excellant blog and message to everyone! I too will share this

  8. rescorkltd Says:

    There are a lot of cases of cyber bullying that we never hear about. Some kids go through hell for years and never talk about it. As a parent I keep telling myself to be more aware.

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