I thought I knew about cyberbullying until I interviewed Joni O’Sullivan on the show last week.
She told me about the 14 month ordeal her daughter Zoe has been put through at the hands of hundreds, maybe even thousands of other teenagers after kissing the ‘wrong’ boy at a disco.
It’s harrowing stuff. Joni is doing her best to keep her daughter safe. As she told me – she doesn’t want Zoe to be one of those cases we hear about after it’s too late.
Listen back to the interview here:
We asked Minister Denis Naughten on the show to explain what the Government is doing to protect our children from this. Here’s the Department of Communications response:
“Unfortunately, Minister Naughten is unavailable to participate on your programme. However, please note the following statement from the Minister in relation to this matter.
Online safety is of vital interest to all and raises complex and wide ranging issues. Important work is being undertaken by various Government Departments and at a European level to address these.
Given the cross-cutting nature of online content, the Irish Government will hold an Open Policy Debate on the topic on Thursday 8 March 2018. Minister Naughten’s Department of Communications is leading the co-ordination of this event, with support and participation from the Departments of Justice & Equality; Business, Enterprise and Innovation; Education & Skills; Health, and Children and Youth Affairs. Representatives of industry, NGOs and all stakeholders will participate in the event.
The overall aim of the event is to raise awareness among all participants of the activities which are being undertaken by the Irish Government, by the EU, by industry, by NGOs and other players and to identify gaps where further action is required and areas where further cooperation between stakeholders is possible.
After all of this absolute guff, I did talk to MEP Sean Kelly the following day, who pointed out that new EU laws governing this (based I think on this German provision) are coming into force next year, and will see huge fines imposed on social media providers that leave abusive material in place.
In the meantime, teaching kids to be kind seems to be our only solution. It’s not much of one…