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Lydia Johnson On: Cyberbullying
AT a conference at the Courtyard Theatre in Hereford earlier this week, Jonathan Charlesworth, the executive director of Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH), spoke about the use of social media as a tool to bully and harass.
There have been so many examples of this lately, such as the abusive messages sent to Muslims raising money to establish their first official place of worship in Hereford, and the Worcester teenager who posted offensive statuses about missing five-year-old April Jones on his Facebook page.
As Mr Charlesworth said, the internet is not inherently bad - it’s what we do with it that can make it seem so.
Many people will find themselves the victim of cyberbullying - bullying via the internet and other technologies - for various reasons - because of their weight, their sexuality or skin colour, or even because of the clothes they choose to wear.
I can’t imagine what sad lives people must lead to want to judge and abuse people at all, let alone via a computer, but plenty seem to lead them.
Of course give your opinions on your own Facebook or Twitter page, but use common sense and don’t intentionally cause trouble or hurt someone because you disagree with them.
Think about the effect your words will have on the person before you feel yourself important enough to pass judgement on them.
See this week's Hereford Times for a full write-up on the Same But Different conference, organised by The Rural Media Company.
Tips for young people to stop cyberbullying:
Don’t respond or retaliate – your reaction will be just what they want.
Save the evidence and talk to an adult – save comments and text messages and show it to someone; a parent or a teacher, or even the police if you feel threatened.
Block the bully – use privacy tools to block the person.
Don’t be a bystander – if you see hurtful messages being sent, tell the bully to stop and make them see their behaviour is unacceptable and report them.