Cyber bullying takes centre stage

photo: andile sithole Residents at the cyber bulling workshop in Greytown.
photo: andile sithole Residents at the cyber bulling workshop in Greytown.

CYBER bullying is a form of harassment that takes place using electronic technology which includes devices and equipment such as cellphones and computers.

To raise awareness about cyber bullying in the community, World Vision in Umvoti together with the Film and Publication Board (FPB) conducted a workshop in Greytown to educate and enable parents to be aware of cyber bullying. The two-day workshop aimed to protect children from exposure to disturbing and harmful materials, premature exposure to adult experiences, and the exposure of children to pornography.

According to the FPB, cyber bully­ing is perpetrated through text messages, picture or video clips (taken with mobile phone cameras), mobile phones, e-mail chat rooms, instant messages and social networking sites such as Face­book, Twitter etc.

Chris Ndlovu from World Vision in Umvoti said parents are not aware about cyber bulling.

Ndlovu said, according to recent research, the increasing number of suicides among teenagers are a result of cyber bullying.

The aim of the stakeholders’ dialogue was to educate parents and leaders in the community about the impact of cyber bulling and children being exposed to child pornography.

“In the stakeholders’ dialogue it emerged that children are being exposed to pornographic material that they should not have access to. We invited the Film and Publication Board to come and address parents and children,” Ndlovu said.

The two-day programme had two sessions — the first was for the adults and representatives from government departments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

“Session two was conducted at Inkosi Sizwe Sithole High School in the Mbangweni area. We targeted Grade 8 pupils from the school.

“We had about 256 participants that attended the programme,” he said.

The aim of the second session was to engage with pupils on issues and teach them how to protect themselves from cyber bullying and child pornography.

“The two-day programme was a success. We want to train people from Umvoti who will facilitate awareness programmes in the communities,” Ndlovu added.

Ndlovu added that the main objective of World Vision in Umvoti is to create a conducive environment for the community and alleviate social ills that have detrimental impact on the lives of children.

REPORTING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

Prochild is an online service that affords members of the public with an opportunity to report any child pornography or sexual abuse images discovered on the internet. This may also include child grooming activities hosted in chat rooms.

Any person can report cases anonymously on the toll-free number 0800 148 148 or they can go to www.fpbprochild.org.za and submit an report online.

CYBER SAFETY TIPS

• Teach children to think before they share things online

• Talk to children about technology before they are on social media. If your teen is on Facebook, consider friending them.

• Talk to children about issues of safety, privacy and security on social media. For example, you can ask them questions about privacy settings when you are setting up your own Facebook account.

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