Parents warned on cyber-bullying

Parents warned on cyber-bullying

National Anti-Bullying Week kicks off

Parents are being warned to educate their children about the perils of online bullies as part of a move to promote national Anti-Bullying Week in Britain.

The week's events will include workshops and conferences in schools across the land to promote new ways for bullies to be stopped. The growth of online bullying has cause concern for governments around the world, with over a third of British children admitting to being bullied.

In the UK Symantec has included a guide for parents on online bullying and how to cope with it on its web site. It encourages parents to sit down with their children and discuss the problem.

"There are two big differences between schoolyard bullying and cyber bullying," the company says.

"The cyber bully can use technology to spread his or her offensive messages to many more people very quickly. Also, cell phones, PCs and the Internet, tend to give the cyber bully a sense of anonymity, which emboldens him or her to make their offensive behaviour more vicious."

Meanwhile in the United States the parents of a child who committed suicide are pushing for a new law to make online bullying a crime.

The parents of Megan Meier, 13, say she hung herself with an electrical cord after an adult neighbour constructed an online personality and used it to form a relationship online with the girl, before breaking it off with terms of abuse. The girl hung herself the next day.

Despite a police investigation the parents say that no action could be taken against the neighbour because no law had been broken. The parents are now considering legal action.