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Cyber Bulling - A childhood Phenomenon?

Just yesterday, the news broke of yet another young girl, of twelve years of age, taking her own life in Kildare, of which cyber bullying is being spoken about as the root cause for such a tragic event. In recent months much has been spoken and written across all media of the devastating effects bullying can have on the human mind. I personally link the increase in accessibility to the internet to the rise in the dramatic and horrific outcomes of bullying in recent years. Only ten years ago, when I would have been in school, if someone was being bullied in the schoolyard or classroom, home was a safe haven where respite from the onslaught of the bully or bullies was forthcoming. The home is no longer that safe haven. Now children and teenagers are targeted just as much, if not more, in their own homes and now the bully victim is subjected to 24/7 intimidation and mocking. So what can we do?

I genuinely believe education and example to be the main solutions to this growing epidemic. But there is a massive problem. While education will be relatively easy to roll out should there be the willingness to accept that we have a problem on our hands, example is a trickier issue. I am loathe to suggest that people use the suicide of any person, let alone a child, as a bit of PR for themselves, but I am growing ever more cynical of the voices of descent of supposedly responsible, well renowned people to this problem. I use twitter regularly and also read and comment on the news sites. I have observed cyber bullying, sneering and clique mentalities on all of these sites and just today 5 prominent twitter users, four of whom are respected journalists attack and jeer someone, who could be classified as a disenfranchised colleague. In the children's referendum debate, people like John Waters were called names and jokes were made about his mental well being by these same commentators and many more media types whom now are aghast at the epidemic of cyber bullying and the detrimental effects it has on our youth. The hypocrisy and delusion of it is truly something to behold. Perhaps these people think young people aren't influenced by the actions of their parents and peers? Perhaps they think it is ok to mock and jeer someone with the "wrong opinion"? Or maybe they just are no better than the school yard bully and need to be made aware of this? 

I took it upon myself to inform these 5 people today that what they were doing was a form of cyber bullying. I am sure a minnow such as myself addressing 4 well respected journalists went down like a lead balloon in the clique of the media pals. Nevertheless, it had to be said. What all this illustrates is that we have a much bigger problem on our hands. Our young learn predominantly from their parents and the tone set by adults around them. Perhaps we should be looking in the mirror before we cast stones at the children who perpetrate such dreadful acts of bullying!

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