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Modern Bullying - Pre-Planned Violence Using Mobile Phones 

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Today, we take a look at a new form of bullying and how we can deal with it.

Happy Slapping, a term given by the media and the perpetrators to this new breed of bullying.

Happy slapping is where an unsuspecting victim is attacked while an accomplice records the assault commonly with a camera phone with the intention of passing the footage on to other people's phones or posting it on websites such as Youtube and Bebo. This is often pre planned.

Brian Mooney is here to discuss how schools, parents and kids can prevent and deal with this form of bullying.

Mr. Brian Mooney, President of the Institute of Guidance Counselors of Ireland, and educational columnist with The Irish Times. 

Explanation of the people involved in a typical "happy slapping" situation

1. Perpetrator: This is the person who commits the violent act itself, it may involve thumping, slapping, kicking, taunting an innocent victim. 
2. Accomplice: This is the person who videos the act using a camera phone.
3. Onlookers:  These are the people that watch this as it happens or the people who view the footage as it is passed around to different mobile phones or posted on websites.
4. Victim: This is the person who is attacked.
The Barnardo's Childhood 2007 poll found that bullying was the top concern among both parents and children, with four out of ten teenagers revealing that a close personal friend had been affected by bullying.

Bullying situations arise when people decide to take their own insecurities out on someone else. It is something that will continue to happen in society. The only thing that changes is the different outlets for it. All organizations should have policies to address bullying including schools and the workplace. It's not only kids and teenagers that are using these outlets for bullying. Adults are using them too.

HOW CAN SCHOOLS PREVENT THIS FORM OF BULLYING FROM HAPPENING?
At this point Brian can mention the 3 books which he has brought which are used in Schools throughout Ireland. Both are published by the North Eastern Health Board.

1 "Responding to Bullying, first steps for teachers"

2 "Investigating and Resolving Bullying in School" The Cool School Programme

IF PARENTS OR TEACHERS ARE INTERESTED IN FINDING OUT ABOUT THE COOL SCHOOL PROGRAMME. THEY CAN EMAIL
JOAN@ECNAVAN.IE

3 "Bullying in Secondary schools, what parents need to know" published by the North Eastern Health Board

. Schools need to educate teachers about bullying.
. They need to give staff training days on anti bullying
. Restrictions on use of mobile phones should be made and serious consequences should arise for to those who break the rules.
. Integrate curriculum-based anti-bullying programs into classrooms
. Update the school or board's computer Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) to specifically prohibit using the Internet for bullying or putting mobile video footage up on websites

WHAT SHOULD KIDS OR TEENAGERS DO IF THEY BECOME A VICTIM OF THIS SORT OF BULLYING?

Brian mentions another book  "Tips for Teens" published by the North Eastern Healthboard.

. If you have been a victim of this sort of bullying or if you have witnessed a violent attack, let your parents or teacher know immediately.
. If you plan on sending footage of another person to another phone without their permission, think about it first, think about how you would feel if humiliating footage of yourself was passed around.
. Give your mobile number or email address only to people you can trust
. Keep all offensive messages in your phone memory as evidence.
. Resist the temptation to return abusive text messages
. Give your mobile phone to an adult to monitor for a weekend
. Change your sim card. Give your new number to only one friend at a time. Leave a few days in between giving out your number to each of your friends so you can check who might be sending offensive texts
. It is an offence under the Post Office Act (1999) to send malicious or threatening text messages

IF IT HAPPENS OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL, WHAT CAN PARENTS/KIDS DO?

. If your child is receiving a nasty or offensive text outside of school, phone the network provider as soon as possible. It can send a warning text to the harasser so say that if it continues their phone may be cut off
. If your child is receiving violent or life-threatening texts or has been a victim of a "happy slapping" attack, contact the Gardai immediately
. The Irish Cellular Industry Association (ICIA), which represents all four mobile phone firms operating in Ireland, introduced a code of practice last year under which they agree to open up all customer records to the gardaí on request
. The Gardai have made a statement to us that there are serious consequences involved if a person is found guilty of assaulting someone while being filmed. Even the person filming the attack could face serious consequences if evidence found indicates this person has been involved in planning the attack.

WHAT CAN PARENTS DO TO COMBAT THIS LATEST FORM OF BULLYING?

. Try not to buy your kids camera phones. They are not necessary at that age. It is important to be able to have contact with your child and a normal phone without a camera can achieve this.
. The issue of bullying should be brought up in conversation with your children. Parents should let their children know that they are aware of text and video phone bullying.
. Encourage your children to talk to you about bullying issues, so together you can work through a solution.

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