What to do if you or your child is being cyberbullied

It can be hard to police the Internet, but it has to be done

The always-on culture created by our smartphones means we can work from anywhere. It also means that we can be bullied from anywhere. Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that follows you home and into your bedroom. It can be in your sitting room, on your morning commute and in the schoolyard or office.

On Monday, a mother named Barbara Smyth spoke to Jonathan Healy on Newstalk Lunchtime. Barbara’s 14 year old daughter was on the receiving end of what can only be described as horrific cyber abuse. The Longford girl was named in a post and told to hang herself.

Her parents reported the post to Facebook but the social media company replied saying the post did not violate its community standards. Newstalk Lunchtime contacted the social networking site on Friday and were since told that they are investigating the matter fully. They also clarified that the post is, in fact, in breach of their terms and has since been removed.


While this matter is now being investigated, one must ask if reporting via a radio show is necessary to get some action from the social networking giants?

There are 30 subsections of the "Report Something" part of Facebook.com. 

There are many hyper-links and explainers but it's still a bit tricky to understand how to report content and ensure action is taken. If one hits report, they are then prompted to clarify why they are reporting.

While this may see to be an easy way to lodge a complaint, it's unclear as a user what actually happens. 

As a Facebook user, I have never had any form of follow up from the various social media sites after lodging a complaint. Some of this content was stuff I deemed to be inappropriate while other posts were cyber-abuse directly aimed at me. 

So, what can be done?

If you or your child are the victim of cyberabuse, screengrab the offending post / posts and then follow the steps on the social networking site. Take some time to adjust the profile settings, restricting access to those you know. Actively report offensive material as you see it. Do not engage. 

If you or someone you know is the victim of online abuse you can reach out to organisations such as Samaritans or SpunOut. If you feel unsafe or unsure about anything at anytime contact the Gardai.