Cyber-bullying is in every class in every school in Cork and parents need to tackle it by talking to their children about their online behaviour, says internet safety expert Avril Ronan.
Ms Ronan spoke as an awareness campaign was launched by the gardaí to highlight the devastating effects of cyber-bullying on a victim.
Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly, from the Garda National Protective Services Bureau, said: “Cyber-bullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person."
"Although more prevalent amongst young people, it can happen to anyone, at any age. It is intended to inflict harm or discomfort to others.”
Outlining the law in Ireland governing the use of the internet, Det Chief Supt Daly said: “In Ireland, the digital age of consent is 16. Young people under the age of 16 may not sign up for online services, such as social media sites, without the explicit approval of their parent or guardian.
“If you do decide to give your child permission to use social media sites, the best online safety strategy is to talk with your child and engage with their use of the internet.”
Head of internet safety with TrendMicro, Avril Ronan, said that every child is capable of being a cyber-bully, as well as of being a victim.
Ms Ronan said it was up to parents to educate their children and form a process of sympathy, empathy, and compassion for dealing with cyberbullying.
Since January 1, Ms Ronan has reached 3,000 parents and children, and, over the year, her company will directly speak to, as well as indirectly educate, through training, 20,000 parents and children about the dangers of the internet and how to be safe online.
Internationally, one in five children are cyber-bullied and the message from Ms Ronan is to seek safety in numbers.
“Four out of five children are bystanders and they can do something about it. Children are often scared to speak out, because of a number of reasons, but if they tell a trusted adult together, they can help and stay safe.”