Bully 4u

A not for profit Anti-Bullying service for Irish Schools

Bully 4u at Clongowes Wood College

Last Wednesday, 13th April, the Parents’ Association arranged a talk for parents by a company called Bully4You represented on the night by Kevin Deering and Jim Harding. Bully4You is a not-for-profit organisation helping schools, parents and teenagers to understand the deep effects of bullying and cyber bullying in particular. With the advent of modern communications and technology, people all over the world are engaging with society like never before.

Today’s generation of teenagers are connecting in new ways and have a new audience thanks to the ease of access to social networking websites, video and photograph sharing sites. While email, instant messaging and sites such as Snapchat and Facebook etc are allowing young people to communicate in a free and easy unsupervised manner, the anonymous, instant and far reaching technological possibilities have also brought a new dimension to bullying. When they are online, young people can hide behind the anonymity that the internet offers.

The very informative talk given by Jim and Kevin helped us as parents to understand, what is probably just the tip of the iceberg, what exactly is involved in the area and – most importantly – their message to communicate with our children as best we can to protect them from the negative effects of such cyber bullying.

Many prefects as well as parents and the Headmaster, Mr Chris Lumb as well as School Counsellor, Ms Mary Maume and the Rector and Director of Ethos, Fr Michael Sheil SJ, attended this informative talk and I think all who attended were grateful for the information delivered in such an eloquent manner by the team from Bully4You.

Susanna Cawley, Parents’ Association Chairperson

TEENS STOP ASKING.FM; Suicides linked to massive drop in site usage. [The free Library, by Aoife Mullen]

THE number of teenagers using the controversial website ask.fm has dropped dramatically, research has found.

A survey by the Irish anti-bullying service Bully4u showed that of the 40% of nine to 12-year-olds that had used the site, only 8% were still using it.

It also revealed that of the 45% of 13 and 14-year-olds and 55% of 15 to 17-year-olds who used it, only 10% of both groups still use it.

The website came in for huge criticism after the suicides of Erin and Shannon Gallagher were linked to vile bullying on the site.

Bully4u director Jim Harding said cyber-bullying on ask.fm is one of the reasons for the decline.

He added: “The latest figures from the survey will be welcomed by parents the length and breadth of Ireland. The decline is largely down to the media campaign against this site following a number of tragic suicides which were linked to cyber-bullying.

“Schoolchildren cite bullying on ask. fm and parental pressure as the main reasons they were no longer frequenting the site.” Almost every teenager who took part in the survey has a Facebook profile and half have a Twitter profile.

Mr Harding said: “Facebook’s requirement to open an account is that you must be 13 years or older.

“Our research indicates that 85% of children aged nine to 12 have a Facebook account and 33% of these were helped by their parents to open it.”

He is also concerned about the number of teenagers using the Snapchat app which allows users to send pictures before deleting the picture a number of seconds after it’s opened.

He said: “Snapchat is being used to cyber bully and for sexting.

“In addition, 30% of secondary schoolchildren visit Chat Roulette sites like Omegle that pair random people from around the world together for webcam-based conversations. These sites would be of great concern.”

Cracking the cyberbullies’ secret language could save lives [mathildefrot, 14/07/2015]

TO PARENTS they may seem like a bewildering jumble of letters – but these coded messages could provide the first clue that their children are self-harming, being bullied or groomed online, or even driven to suicide.

Teenagers and predators alike are using their own language and collection of acronyms on Facebook and other social networking sites to conceal the true nature of their conversations.

Among the danger signs are the acronyms ‘Dirl’, meaning ‘die in real life’, which is used by cyberbullies to urge victims to kill themselves, and ‘gnoc’ – ‘getting naked on camera’ – used to lure young people into getting undressed. Other terms may at first seem innocuous. ‘Bio-oil’ is a skincare product, but on chat forums such as Ask.fm it can indicate self-harm scars, while the hashtag #cutfor is used on Twitter to promote selfharming in a twisted attempt to honour a celebrity.

Research body CNGL – Centre for Global Intelligent Content – has been working on software that can fight cyberbullying by identifying such dangerous phrases.

The team is currently working on a programme that could be used with social media sites and forums and could pinpoint instances of cyberbullying or abusive language in text messages. It could then filter out the phrases – or report them to teachers, parents or website moderators.

DCU researcher Johannes Lev-eling said that the software could be used in classrooms to alert teachers or counsellors to potential bullying or self-harm.

If a student searches for the term ‘clavicle’, for example, a screenshot would be sent to the teacher with an explanation that the word is often used by anorexics seeking pictures of girls with protruding collarbones.

CNGL intends to showcase the technology at the National Cyberbullying Conference in Dublin this  September.

Jim Harding, founder of charity Bully4U, said the victims of cyberbullying are getting younger all the time.

When Bully4U started providing workshops in schools, victims were ‘no younger than 11’, he said.

‘Now, children as young as six years of age may be affected by cyberbullying,’ Mr Harding explained, ‘because children are often given smartphones for communion or Christmas and so have unmonitored access to the internet.’

Mr Harding also issued a warning to parents about the app Viber, which provides users with free calls and text messages via any Wi-Fi network. The app connects people into groups and allows users to share their location to any of their contacts, resulting in a host of privacy and abuse-related concerns.

He claimed parents were often in the dark: ‘Bully4U’s work in schools is effective as parents just don’t know that their children are being bullied because victims very rarely come forward,’ he said.

In 2012 cyberbullying was linked to the suicides of Erin Gallagher, 13, and her sister Shannon, 15, from Ballybofey, Co. Donegal and Ciara Pugsley, 15, from Co. Leitrim.

Expert calls for an EU law to crack down on bullies

NEW laws are needed at European level to combat cyberbullying, child law expert Dr Geoffrey Shannon has said. At the first European Union antibullying conference last month hosted as part of the Greek Presidency,

Dr Shannon said international research indicated that intervention programmes could reduce bullying and cyber bullying in schools by 20%. ‘What is required is an international super-national framework for the protection of children,’ he said.

There has been much interest in Dr Shannon’s recommendations to make cyber-bullying a crime. It was recently raised in a select committee in the House of Commons in Westminster.

From IHML (I hate my life) to Pos (parent over shoulder) … your guide to the online teen lexicon

Ana buddy/Mia buddy: Anorexic or bulimia buddy, who encourages the eating disorder.

Bbp: Banned by parents. Bio-oil: Stretch mark oil often used by those who are self-harming to minimise appearance of scars. Clavicle: Those suffering from eating disorders might use this to search for pictures of people who are very thin, as a prominent clavicle can be seen as a measure of thinness. #cutfor: Hashtag used to promote self-harm in the name of particular celebrities. #cutforJustinBiebertrended in 2013.

Dirl: Die in real life, a phrase which may be used to upset someone or encourage them to commit suicide.

Gcad: Get cancer and die. Gnoc: Get naked on camera, used to groom young people or as a form of ‘sexting’.

Gokid: Got observers, keep it decent.

Foad: F*** off and die. Fugly: F****** ugly. Hduw2bb: Hello do you want to be buddies? Possible interaction with a stranger.

Idttu: I don’t talk to you. Used to ostracise another person online. Ih8p: I hate parents.

IHML: I hate my life. Iw2mu: I want to meet you. Suggests possible meet-up with a stranger.

Jlma: Just leave me alone. Kpc: Keeping parents clueless. Lggd: Let’s go get drunk. Miw: Mum is watching.

Mmas: Meet me after school. Mos: Mum over shoulder. Np4np: Naked pic for naked pic. Offering to swap pornographic pictures with others online. Oreo: Racist slang for a black person who is ‘trying to be white’.

Our x: Our secret, used by abusers to encourage victims not to speak out.

Pcrs: Parents can read slang. P3n15/V4gIn4: Code for penis or vagina.

Pos/Pob: Parent over shoulder or parent over back.

Taw: Teachers are watching. Water loading: Technique used by those with eating disorders to increase body weight.

Code hides true nature of online conversations

‘Children as young as six may be affected’

Controversial site sees major drop in users after cyberbullying concerns [Breakingnews, 08/11/2013]

There has been a massive drop in the number of Irish teens using the controversial web site ask.fm.

It made headlines last year after being linked to the high-profile deaths of Erin Gallagherand Ciara Pugsley.

The survey by the Irish anti-bullying service Bully4u.ie showed that of the 40% of nine to 12-year-olds that had used the site, only 8% were still using it.

The site has faced huge criticism over cyberbullying concerns.

Jim Harding, from Bully4U.ie which carried out the survey, says it has caused them to lose out on Irish users.

Mr Harding said: “I think the high-profile tragedies galvanised the media and the media really took this as a champion casuse and created a lot of awareness.

“That awareness trickled down to schoolchildren, but also schoolchildren are being influenced by their parents.”

The Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald has welcomed the news.

Cyberbullying ‘at risk ofspiralling out of control’with 33pc rise in one year [Herald, by Sarah Slater, 30/08/2017]

A radical overhaul of legislation around cyberbullying is needed to prevent it spiralling out of control, a leading law expert has claimed.

A recent survey by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals found 16pc of Irish students have experienced bullying online – which is a 33pc increase on last year.

Researchers from the Anti- Bullying Centre at DCU have found that another 8pc admitted to cyberbullying others.

The study was carried out on a group of 2,700 students aged from between 12 and 16 in eight post primary schools late last year.

A further 39pc of girls and 30pc of boys reported that they had witnessed someone being cyberbullied.


Incidence of school bullying was brought into focus when Irish student Phoebe Prince took her own life in America after bullying by other students.

David Fagan, a health and safety law expert believes it will take a “horrific case” of bulling or cyberbullying before the Irish State will implement new legislation around the issue.

“There is no specific legislation here which deals with this issue. Bullying and cyberbullying need to be defined, and penalties around such need to urgently be introduced here,” Mr Fagan said.

“There is all sorts of legislation here, such as the Children’s Act and Education Act, but the State doesn’t recognise bullying as a concept. Here, you have to bring a personal injury case against someone which doesn’t specify bullying.

“Even schools and teachers don’t seem to realise how they could not be covered by appropriate legislation when it comes to dealing with this issue.

“We are way behind other countries when it comes to this worrying issue. There was one case here which was brought under the Post Office Amendment Act of 1951 around one site and the use of a telephone.


“But that legislation is so old. It is nuts that we are using archaic law. The law around this issue is based in the Stone Age and has not kept apace.”

Mr Fagan was speaking ahead of the first national conference on cyberbullying, which is being held at Dublin Castle on Monday by the Bully4U organisation and the Anti-Bullying Centre at Dublin City University.

The conference aims at educating and empowering parents, teachers and health professionals in providing support to victims and developing cyberbullying prevention and intervention strategies.

There will be international speakers attending, including spokespeople from Facebook, Twitter and ASK.FM.

Jim Harding, the founder of Bully4U which visits schools nationwide to provide training on the issue to schools, added: “Identifying threats and trends around cyberbullying is so important.

“We need to equip professionals at the coalface to ‘understand and manage this cyberbullying epidemic in our schools, clubs and digital playgrounds.”

National cyberbullying conference takes place at DCU [Newstalk, by Jack Quann, 01/11/2014]

A conference aimed at addressing cyberbullying will see school principals call for increased funding and training to tackle the growing problem.

The national cyberbullying conference will take place in Dublin City University (DCU) today, and comes as recent surveys show increases in the number of victims and in those involved.

The event is being organised by the anti-bullying centre in DCU and Bully4U.

It and will be attended by a number of international experts including contributors from Facebook and Ask.fm.

A recent survey by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals found 16% of Irish students have experienced bullying online – that is a 33% increase on 2013.

The conference aims to educate and empower parents, teachers and and health professionals in providing support to victims and developing cyberbullying prevention and intervention.

The conference will be chaired by TD Mary Mitchell-O’Connor, and will be officially opened by Seán Kelly, MEP for the digital agenda.

Jim Harding is from Bully4U and says parents are becoming more aware of the pitfalls out there.

Principals: Schools need more money to fight cyber-bullying [Irishnews, 02/11/2014]

IRISH parents are becoming more social-media savvy to protect their children but schools need extra funding and training to tackle cyber-bullying, principals have said.

A national conference on cyber-bullying at Dublin City University yesterday heard a call for extra resources to combat the problem in schools across Ireland.

The event, co-organised by the university’s Anti-Bullying Centre and the support group Bully4U, was attended by teachers’ representatives, health professionals as well as contributors from Face-book, Twitter and Ask.fm.

Clive Byrne of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) said a classroom module on the issues involved should be introduced in schools to equip children with the tools to deal with cyber-bullying.

He also suggested the Department of Education should inject extra cash into providing training for parents.

Bully4U founder Jim Harding said parents are becoming increasingly confident dealing with modern technologies.

However, a recent NAPD survey found that cases of cyber-bullying had soared by a third in the past year, while 14 per cent of students taking part in a Republic-wide study confirmed that they had been targeted.

Last year the south’s special rapporteur on child protection, Dr Geoffrey Shannon, warned that social media had provided a new “forum” for bullies and called for new legislation to stamp out the problem.

His comments came after the suicides in 2012 of a number of young girls who had been victims of cyber bullying, including 13-year-old Erin Gallagher from Ballybofey in Co Donegal and her sister Shannon, aged 15.




This is unbelievably frightening! Irish parents have been warned over a new online ‘death’ game which encourages teens to take their own lives.
The game, Blue Whale, which is played on social media, asks participants to follow a set of instructions over 50 days which eventually asks players to kill themselves.
While we’ve heard of no reports of the game in Ireland as of yet, police in France, the UK and Belgium are warning parents in other countries to watch out for it, revealing that use of the horror game is spreading.
Please be vigilant and check in on your children’s online usage.
According to The Irish Sun, Jim Harding, founder of group Bully4U said:  ‘It’s unknown who is behind the game. With its disturbing commands, distributed through social media, teenagers have been told to carve the shape of a whale on their arms and legs.’
‘They are then told to wake up at 4.20am to listen to certain songs and watch horror movies. On day 50 users are ordered to take their own lives. This is a terrifying development in the use of social media and parents need to wake up to these dangers.’
Please be vigilant as to what your kids are doing online behind closed doors.

Is Your Child’s Mobile Phone Putting Them at Risk of Cyber Bullies?

When we give our children a mobile phone, usually it’s because it offers us an easy way to stay in contact with them. We can text them to make sure they’re okay and, god forbid, if something ever happened to them, they would have a way to reach us.

But is your child’s mobile phone putting them at risk for bullying?

The Irish Sun reports that 80 per cent of children in third and fourth class now have mobile phones and enterprising bullies are using this as a way to threaten, intimidate and verbally abuse them.

“Cyber bullying is a growing problem as children nowadays are increasingly immersing themselves in social networking sites,” said Jim Harding, the founder of Bully4u.ie.

“We plan on educating school staff and parents on noticing the signs of a bullied child,” he added.

A report carried out by Bully4u found that 31 per cent of primary school students have been bullied and 16 per cent of secondary school students have also suffered at the hands of a bully. The report reveals that almost 1 in 4 children are at risk.

Is a mobile phone making your child a target for bullies?

In this day and age, the majority of youngsters are familiar with social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook, and they access these sites to chat with friends on a daily basis. These websites also offer a channel for cowardly bullies who attack children from the safety of their own keyboard or mobile phone.

Cyber bullying has become a major problem in Ireland in recent years and it can have a devastating effect not only on youngsters but their families as well.

If you suspect that your child is the victim of a cyber bullying campaign, or you’re just seeking more information visit bully4u.ie.

Teens are accessing porn, gambling sites and talking to strangers online, and parents have no idea [The Irish Sun, 30/05/2017]

New research has revealed many parents are have no idea what teenagers are getting up to on the internet

IS your child safe online? You might think you’re keeping a close eye on their smartphone and computer use, but new research has revealed many parents have no idea what teenagers are getting up to on the internet.

A frightening study carried out at the University of Greenwich in England has found youngsters are freely accessing porn and ­gambling sites, conversing with strangers and posting images and videos of themselves without any monitoring from their parents.

The team studied 526 teens in Sweden for eight months, and then questioned them and their parents about their internet habits and the rules imposed by their parents.

Study author Dr Jerjra Van Zalk revealed: “There’s a very low correspondence between adolescent disclosure and parental knowledge. Maybe that’s not surprising.

“The parents say, ‘Oh yes, I know exactly what she’s up to,’ and the youths say, ‘No, I tell them nothing’.

“There is an emerging online social world which a lot of parents feel disconnected from and don’t actually know much about what their kids are up to online.”

The problem is made worse by new websites, social media platforms and apps constantly being developed, making it harder for parents to keep up.

So how can they protect youngsters from danger online?

JIM HARDING, director of the Irish anti-bullying service Bully4u, says parents need to be extra-vigilant.

Internet’s web of evil

WE always ask children “who’s monitoring you online?” and their response is that they’re monitoring themselves. They’re totally unsupervised.

When Bully 4u started visiting schools seven years ago and talking to parents, teachers and students, the advice was to keep the family computer in a room where mum and dad can see what’s going on.

Now, with multiple means of accessing the internet, policing is gone and children are unsupervised the majority of time.

When we started, Facebook was big with kids. Now it’s waning because their parents are on it — so they’ve moved to Instagram and Snapchat.

We know that a significant number of teenagers and young children are visiting chat roulette sites and speaking to strangers via webcam.

We’re particularly concerned about sites like Omegle.

It selects somebody at random from around the world to speak to you through a webcam for 30 minutes, and children as young as ten are accessing it.

Bully 4u is running a campaign to educate about the dangers of chat roulette sites.

There are other sites like Live.ly and Musical.ly which pre-teens use to make videos and lip sync to popular songs.

We’ve heard anecdotally from parents who’ve looked at their kids’ videos that they’re receiving messages from strangers.

We would warn parents against all sites which enable children to communicate with other people, they may not always be who they pretend to be. Children should be encouraged to use privacy settings.

Worryingly, some kids are turning off privacy settings to obtain more followers. We tell them that quality not quantity of followers should be their social media goal.

Parents need to become more involved. They may feel they’ve no influence on their children’s digital playground, but we know from experience that kids do listen to their parents.

Speak to children about the websites and apps they’re using.


Establish a line of communication with your child about their digital experiences.

Don’t bury your head in the sand. When we were kids we heard about stranger danger, and there was nothing else.

Now, paedophiles are going online for new opportunities.

If you look at the Yellow app, which is like Tinder for teenagers, anybody can set up a profile, pretend to be another teenager and ask for pictures.

Sexting is a massive problem and it’s going to be a huge issue in schools soon.

It’s important to realise that kids are not at all clued in. They’re not aware of the digital footprint they’re creating and not aware of the dangers of various sites.

They need to be educated about the consequences of their digital behaviour.

You might have a 14-year-old boy who goes online and thinks he’s communicating with a 14-year-old girl.

He’s being sent sexualised images or videos of a 14-year-old girl and he’s encouraged to undress. He’s being recorded by paedophiles and they use that video to snare the next child.

When these videos get out, they’re humiliating. When children are living in the moment they can’t see beyond this.

I would also urge parents to use parental controls offered by their internet provider. The vast majority of parents don’t use them and it means there’s a wave of pornography that’s easily accessible in the house.

The bottom line is that you wouldn’t give children the keys of a car without giving them an intensive course of education, driving lessons and practice. Yet we’re giving six, seven and eight-year-olds access to the internet with no education whatsoever.