Family Lives responds to 'Trolls plead guilty to abusive tweets'

Jeremy Todd, Family Lives Chief Executive, said:

"Trolling" is straightforwardly bullying, intimidation and harassment perpetrated by a person who feels anonymous because they don't have to use their real identity.  People across the UK –young and old alike- really need to think carefully before they get involved in what they might feel is seemingly harmless and imagine how it may be taken by the person, or their friends and family, on the receiving end.  Actions on the internet can have real consequences and the law is clear that using a communication system to harass or intimidate another person is an offence.  The law protects those on the receiving end of trolling behaviour, as recent cases have shown: trolls are not beyond the long arm of the law. it can destroy the lives of victims and force some vulnerable people to contemplate suicide. Where children are concerned, It is vital that parents, children and professionals work in unison to forge stronger partnerships to tackle severe and deliberately targeted online abuse and bullying throughout the UK.  Children –and indeed adults – can on occasion make stupid, off the cuff and in extreme examples wholly inappropriate online remarks that warrant further investigation and censure.  Misusing online social media could have a prolonged and lasting impact on an individual’s future prospects if they are attributed to offensive statements.  An issue of greater concern is the targeting of female campaigners by ‘trolls’ who promote and suggest acts of violence in response to recent campaigns.  In an online survey, Bullying UK, part of Family Lives, found that 43.5% of respondents aged 11-16 had been bullied via social networks such as Facebook, Bebo, Myspace, Twitter.  51% felt that blocking the bully from further contact or communication was a vital tool and a further 68 % felt that being able to report the perpetrator’s bullying activities would be advantageous.  Of 49,723 calls taken by Family Lives via its free 24/7 Parentline, Live Chat and Email support services during the period April 2012 – March 2013  - 2,723 concerned bullying in its various forms. "

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