OpAntiBully

Unfortunately many people are no stranger to the world of cyberbullying. For this week’s blog Sarah takes a look at OpAntiBully and the work they have been doing to reduce this sort of abuse.

It is an unfortunate fact that many people are still using social media sites to bully and intimidate others. Gone are the days where those affected could seek safety in their own homes; with the ever increasing number of social media sites, and with the increasing number of young people using them on smartphones and laptops, all too often there seems to be no escape from online taunts. True there may not be physical violence involved, but as the genius Tim Minchin once sang- ‘Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can break hearts.’

This is why I was so interested to read about OpAntiBully, an online presence which is working to identify online bullies and alert their schools and other adults of authority to what they are doing.

Perhaps a good example is the sad story of Amanda Todd, who took her own life following relentless bullying online. Recently a school was contacted with the name of one of their students who, months after her death, had been sending round nude photos of her. The organisation asked the school to inform the child’s parents and suggested that the case be taken incredibly seriously.

Similarly @Bullyville is now inviting people to post screenshots of bullying tweets to their page (once they’ve been verified), so that those sending them can be held accountable for their actions.

They are also receiving tips about paedophiles using the internet to stalk young people, and have engaged them in conversation whilst posing as young people in order to get proof intent, which allows them to report the person in question.

In addition, the organisation allows victims or friends of those being bullied to write an anonymous letter to those bullying them, thus giving them a chance to express exactly how the bullying is affecting either themselves or their friend. It recognises that not all bullies are aware of how upsetting their actions are, and suggests that honest words might allow the bully to initiate change in their behaviour. Those who chose to write simply need the twitter name or email address of the alleged bully (or a teacher), who will them receive an email from bullyville.com.

Whilst I admire what these organisations are doing in theory, there are a few things that concern me about their practises; I wonder if by allowing people to forward screenshots of bullying online if they potentially risk more circulation of the bullying, which could in fact have a negative impact on the person it was aimed at? It may also be worth asking if those identified as bullies receive any support from their school? Yes these people need to be pulled up about their behaviour, and I’m not for a second saying that what they are doing is acceptable- far from it. I just hope that all young people involved are given the correct support- either to help them cope with the bullying, or to help them deal with the reasons behind their behaviour.

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