Reflection: Course on Online Bullying of Children and Young Adults, 6th September 2017

Heidi Resource

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The above course was held on 6th September 2017, it was co-ordinated by a lady from “Respect Me” attended by 18 people from various organisations including Police Scotland and myself. The introduction to this course was through an activity, remembering what it was like in our teenage years, our twenties and now, asking if we had access to the internet,( which is a place - not a thing that everyone accesses at some point in their lives.)

My teens:  I remember having no internet, or mobile phone: the way of contacting friends was normally done at the school gate when school finished at 4.30pm or in the evenings by telephone calls.  There were no computers only typewriters with keys and a ribbon that printed letters and words when keys struck paper inserted in the typewriter.

Twenties:  In my late twenties, we had mobile phones that were the size of ‘bricks’, which had aerials attached to them, they were heavy and never fitted into your handbag;  the Internet -  was accessed through the telephone line which took forever; It was slow and the telephone could not be accessed at the same time.

During the Training, this was stated on a slide - Bullying is a behaviour that has an impact on any child or young person at any age, it can hurt, frighten and scar them for the rest of their lives which creates other issues for them, such as doubt, unworthiness and failure. The list is endless, there are also mental health issues that can happen through no fault of their own because society has treated them different.”

They gave examples of Apps that children and young people use on mobile phones and the internet.   i.e. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Messenger, X-box live, YouTube - anyone in the world can access this and bullying on these is rife. Additionally, there is also ‘Ethical hacking’ which exposes people through humiliation or rumour spreading, where people set-up fake profiles.

Along with the possibility of ‘hacking’ our accounts for personal information, there are always ways people can access this type of information about anyone - because of what we have posted on the internet or through app sites. Once a person has a child's information they may track or groom.

The problem is we all have friends, who have friends, who have friends, and we don’t know who sees what we or our children post if we have no control settings or tools in place.

I learned about why it is better to speak to our children from primary age, explaining the dangers of the internet and text messaging.  By starting this at an early age we are instilling in them the means for them to be safe throughout their lives where, the internet “is a place our children and grandchildren will want to experience as their friends will be talking and participating in". It can be difficult at first to explain the do and donts of the internet and mobiles phones, and to show them how to protect themselves.

Sites that give information about all apps and sites: -

  • NSPCC. NET AWARE
  • Internet matters.org
  • YouTube is a good place for accessing information about apps.

Remember everything can be made public if the Parental Controls in Settings on any electronic equipment are not used - To set parental controls/privacy controls check settings on computers, laptops, iPads, even mobiles etc.

Ailene