More than a quarter of Limerick teenagers have experienced bullying online, according to a new report by the ISPCC.
And teenagers are being encouraged to speak up if they have a problem, after it was revealed that only 10 per cent had discussed the matter with people other than friends.
The report, titled This Will Come Back and Bite us in the Butt, involved more than 18,000 young people studying in primary and secondary school, and also those not in formal education.
Regional Childline supervisor, Meadhbh Terry, said that the ISPCC‘s service in Limerick has witnessed an increase in callers and a continuation of reports of cyber bullying.
“We are seeing a worrying increase in young people discussing mental health difficulties, with children talking about self harm and their suicidal thoughts,” she said, adding that the service receives calls from children as young as five up to the age of 17.
“Previously, young people only had to deal with bullying at school. Now, it can be constant, with mobile phones and internet use at home,” she said.
The report also found that 44 per cent of youths surveyed are spending large amounts of time in their bedrooms using the internet without supervision, and are giving their names, contact details and photos to strangers.
Ms Terry said the ISPCC Limerick branch hopes to increase funding along with the number of volunteers, who will work with Childline and TeenFocus.
There are currently over 50 volunteers in Limerick, who work four hours a week as a call operator in Childline or as a teen mentor in the TeenFocus service.
Volunteer Ann-Marie Howard got involved to make a difference. “I suppose knowing that there were calls going unanswered, I felt that at least I got to help to reduce that statistic”
The ISPCC is looking for additional volunteers to help reach out and will hold an open information evening in the coming weeks.
For more information on the service, or to volunteer, contact the ISPCC on 061 400077.