Think before you type

Finally the issue of cyberbullying, which has devastated so many lives in this country, is getting the attention and headlines it deserves.

From young children right up to third level stage programmes and initiatives are being launched to tackle this despicable behaviour carried out by individuals hiding behind computer screens and fake names who need to project their own failings on innocent victims.

Think Before You Type is the name of a new awareness campaign which was launched by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI ).

According to the USI students are reporting increased incidents of cyberbullying and it is imperative the issue is discussed in depth both locally and nationally and is a permanent fixture on the political agenda until young people finally understand the devastating effects their actions have on others.

Obviously cyberbullying isn’t the preserve of secondary school students. It’s also prevalent in third level institutions, which is extremely worrying given that students at this level of their academic careers are labelled young adults and on the cusp of entering the working world. It would be absolutely unacceptable and even criminal for a bully, whatever medium they choose to exercise their inner demons, to be allowed leave the education system without ever being tackled about their behaviour. Otherwise they will just continue this trend into their working careers.

Bullying has always been in existence in school yards. But it seems to have been taken to new heights by a generation who have instant access to the internet. Think before you type is a motto that everyone who uses email or social media on a regular basis should store at the back of their minds.

It’s too easy to upload what you think is a witty post on Facebook without thinking about how it might offend others, or to comment on a friend’s post and insult them in the process, without ever intending to offend.

By thinking before you type will eliminate those comments you always hear such as “I thought she meant something else”, “I didn’t like the tone of the email”, “He used aggressive language”.

Don’t let things get lost in translation.

Comhairle na nÓg Mhaigheo with the support of Mayo County Development Board, Foróige and the Mayo VEC youth committee are organising an internet safety and cyberbullying information night. The night aims to alleviate all the concerns and worries parents have regarding these two topics as children make the transition to secondary school.

Speakers on the night include Brendan Smith from NUI Galway, Anton Boyd, HSE psychologist, and members of Comhairle na nÓg.

The event is on April 10 from 7.30pm to 9pm in the Welcome Inn Hotel, Castlebar. To book a place leave a message on 094 902 6760.

The ISPCC Shield My School Programme is a self-evaluation tool to combat bullying. The ISPCC aims to offer a positive and proactive response to bullying which will reduce its incidence nationwide. The charity has designed a comprehensive self -evaluation toolkit to assist schools to understand and reflect on how effective they currently are in tackling bullying. This is free to download from www.ispcc.ie Ongoing support will be available from the bullying co-ordinator for the duration of the year. Contact ISPCC Mayo on 094 902 5254 for more information.

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