Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Calls for anti-cyber bullying body

Politicians said the Office for Internet Safety must do more to tackle cyber bullying on social media sites such as Facebook

Politicians have called for a new body to help stamp out cyber bullying among teenagers.

As a new cross-party report revealed that 95% of 11 to 16-year-olds use Facebook, Fine Gael TD John O'Mahony said an organisation along the lines of the Road Safety Authority should be set up to regulate social media sites.

"A number of years ago there was a problem with road safety, with 400 people being killed a year on the roads," he said.

"The Road Safety Authority came in and there was a whole lot of campaigns, some legislation and all of that, and resulted in that issue being never eliminated, but dealt with and heading in the right direction.

"We're in the top five for road safety in Europe.

"The analogy I would use for a regulatory body that would deal in some way with cyber bullying would be the way to go here to avoid the difficulties and the tragedies involved with cyber bullying."

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications criticised the Office for Internet Safety for not doing enough to tackle cyber bullying on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Bebo, and video upload You Tube.

With around 10% of teens admitting to having been bullied online, the committee recommended that a single body be given responsibility to regulate content, saying state funding would be agreed upon between Government and the industry.

Cyber bullying came under the spotlight following a number of suicides last year, including the death of 15-year-old Ciara Pugsley from Co Leitrim and 13-year-old Erin Gallagher from Co Donegal.

Erin's sister Shannon, 15, took her own life two months later.

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