Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Children Robert Troy TD says the decision by Ask.fm to move its business from Latvia to Dublin raises fresh concern about cyber-bullying. The site, which allows users to post anonymously, has been at the centre of a series of cyberbullying claims.
Deputy Troy commented, “Cyber-bullying is a very real and very dangerous problem, which needs to be tackled urgently. Despite very high profile and even tragic cases, the Government has refused to facilitate any meaningful action to tackle the issue. Research from the Office for Internet Safety has found that children are twice as likely to be bullied online as they are in the playground, yet the Government has come up with few tangible initiatives to provide information and advice to children and their parents.
“Cyber-bullying can have devastating consequences, but it is being almost ignored by the Minister. Last year I published the Cyber-Bullying Bill 2013, which would make it a specific offence to bully another person online. Assisting or encouraging cyber-bullying would also be made a criminal offence. For too long, this horrendous practice has gone without punishment, and the perpetrators have been allowed to continue with their harassment and intimidation. There must be consequences for these heinous actions.
“Minister Reilly needs to do more to protect children from the scourge of cyber-bullying. There should be more engagement between the Government and the Office for Internet Safety to explore ways of clamping down on cyber-bullying. Investment in education and awareness is important, but there is also a need for sanctions to deter people from online bullying. If the status quo is maintained it will result in more cases of cyber-bullying, more distress for victims and little or no consequences for the perpetrators”.