MEP calls for fines to stop cyber bullying. [, by DAVID RALEIGH, 28/09/2013 ].

SOCIAL-MEDIA companies could face fines of up to €2bn if they fail to meet proposed EU guidelines on combating cyber bullying.

A major conference on the issue also heard that parents and schools must be taught how to protect children who are being “bred” into an online world.

The forum, hosted by Irish MEP Sean Kelly, was held at the Kilmurry Lodge Hotel in Limerick and was arranged in order to raise awareness of online bullying.

Mr Kelly has been appointed by theEuropean Parliament to draft data-protection regulations. The Fine Gael politician warned of “very strict fines and curtailments. If necessary, there would be a route into court if they (social-media operators) were continuously not abiding by the rules”.

He continued: “For the likes ofFacebook, it (a fine) would be anything up to €2bn of their global income on a particular year or else we would probably put in for a certain percentage of their global income. So that would be a great deterrent.”

Mr Kelly said he hoped to finalise the proposed regulations, which need to be voted on by the EU Parliament before elections in 2014.

Facebook’s user operations manager, Cormac Keenan, said the company was not fearful of the threat of possible massive fines, because it was satisfied that it would meet any guidelines on online safety.

“Safety is a conversation that needs to happen and we take it extremely seriously. We have a lot of people managing safety on Facebook,” he said.

“We believe, and it has been recognised, that our (security) settings and policies are leading-edge across the industry, but we are always looking at different ways to improve that.”

One of the keynote speakers at the conference, Pat Forde, an anti-bullying campaigner, said he was shocked to discover that children as young as eight were using social media and being bullied by vastly older strangers.

He said: “We’re breeding kids into an online environment. I meet kids from as young as second and third class and they are very familiar with the concepts of having friends online and sending messages online.

“A lot of them tell me they are friends with people online they don’t know. They’ve seen people sending mean and hurtful messages online, so we really need to up our efforts on this.”

Mr Forde, who addresses schools on cyber bullying, added: “What’s really needed is a safe platform to teach kids safe online behaviour. It should be part of the syllabus.”

The conference came in the wake of several high-profile teenage suicides in Ireland which have been linked to cyber-bullying.


Erin Gallagher (13) from Donegal took her own life last year after being bullied online. Tragically, her sister Shannon (15) also committed suicide shortly afterwards as she was bereft without her sister.

Ciara Pugsley (15), from Leitrim, also took her life after receiving vicious taunts online.

William Casey (21), from O’Brien’s Bridge, Co Clare, was among the young people who attended the conference as part of a group from Limerick Youth Service.

Asked about cyber-bullying, he said: “It’s a big problem alright. I suppose you don’t really understand how words can hurt you until you can read them in black and white. Then when you see people joining in behind that, it’s like pouring petrol on a fire.”

He has not suffered online bullying himself, but said: “It all starts from these little Facebooks and no one sees harm in it – but there is harm in it.”

How To Help Your Child Deal with a Cyber-Bully. [, by Marcia Watts Sagendorph, 24/09/2013 ].

The Internet can take bullying to a whole new level.

An unflattering photo, a vicious comment, a mean tweet or a slam on Facebook can not only hurt its intended victim, it can spread like wildfire reaching hundred of kids in mere minutes. How should a kid respond?

And what can you, as a mom or dad, do against cyber-bullying?

The first and most important thing is to not respond. That is what the bully wants and it only tends to fuel the fire, according to Carrie Goldman, parenting expert and author of “Bullied”.

Goldman learned the hard realities of bullying when her first grader was bullied for bringing a Star Wars thermos to school, according to the website summary of her book on Harper A blog post about her true story went viral all around the world, blowing up on social media platforms like FacebookTwitter, and

Older kids may turn from physical violence to cyber-bullying to inflict harm.

“You don’t ever want to lash out at someone online because all you’re going to do is weaken your own case,” Goldman said in this video clip on AOL On titled “Teaching Your Child to Stand Up to a Bully.”

“Evidence is key when you’re dealing with bullies,” Goldman said, encouraging people to take screen shots of cyber-bullying to have a record of the information in order to present it to school or local officials.

Goldman shares practical tips with Marlo Thomas, actress, producer, and social activist, in this video clip from Watch it for ideas to help your child stay safe at school and online.

16-year-old girl faces child porn charges over Vancouver Island ‘sexting’ case. [, by LOUISE DICKSON, 20/09/2013 ].

A Greater Victoria high school student who allegedly sent naked photos of her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend to a friend has launched a constitutional challenge against charging youth who engage in “sexting” with child pornography offences.

But a provincial court ruled on Thursday that her trial for possession and distribution of child pornography will go ahead before that challenge can be heard.

The 16-year-old girl, whose identity is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was charged in February with possession and distribution of child pornography and with uttering threats to cause death and bodily harm to the ex-girlfriend. The offences are alleged to have taken place in November 2012.

On Thursday, her lawyer Christopher Mackie will argue in Youth Justice Court that it is unconstitutional to charge youths who engage in “sexting” with child-pornography offences because sexting — sending sexualized or erotic images — is lawful for adults.

The objective of the child-pornography provisions in the Criminal Code is to denounce and deter pedophilia, Mackie said.

“The provisions were created to protect children. So is it now appropriate to use those provisions to prosecute children?” asked Mackie.

“On a common sense level, does it make sense to charge youth with child pornography if they are not engaged in pedophiliac behaviour?”

According to defence submission filed with the court, the Crown is alleging that a teenage boy asked his girlfriend to send him photos. She sent him some images. Then he sent her nude photographs of himself.

When they broke up, the teenage boy started dating the accused. He started to believe his ex-girlfriend had shown his nude pictures to other people. He got angry and showed the accused the photos of his ex-girlfriend. The accused then sent the images to the ex-girfriend and to another friend.

The accused is denying the charges laid against her.

Criminal justice branch spokeswoman Samantha Hulme said the Crown considered the law and evidence forwarded by police and decided that a prosecution for possessing and distributing child pornography and uttering threats was in the public interest.

Saanich Sgt. Steve Eassie said charges were pursued because this was not a situation where two consenting youths were sending photos to each other.

“The accused began using the photos for the purpose of bullying,” Eassie said. “It’s very unfortunate.”

The lesson to be learned from this situation is not to share photographs, Eassie said.

“Once you send a photograph, you don’t know what someone is going to do with it.”

There’s no question that sexting and related behaviour in youths can result in dire circumstances, Mackie said.

“The concern for my client is whether or not charging people who engage in that activity is lawful.”

Pursuing the legal challenge was a difficult decision for his client, Mackie said.

“It’s been a very stressful period for her . . . but she’s hopeful that this will give us some kind of definitive answer, at least for British Columbia, as to whether or not this is the appropriate way to deal with the issue,” he said.

The criminal justice branch does not have statistics on the number of youths charged with child pornography offences in B.C., Hulme said.

In February 2012, a teenage boy who took photos of an alleged sexual assault at a Pitt Meadows rave in September 2010 was sentenced to a year’s probation.

The youth had previously been charged with producing and distributing child pornography, but pleaded guilty to distributing obscene material.

He also had to write an essay on the dangers of social media and a letter of apology to the victim.