14:05 Tuesday 17 December 2013

Spotted bullying gets 'out of hand'

Written byRICHARD CASTLE

A COUNSELLOR is calling for action to halt online bullying after a string of abusive messages were posted on a Uttoxeter social media page.

Spotted: Uttoxeter, a Facebook page where users can post messages anonymously, has accomodated a string of abusive material in recent months.

Threats of violence and accusations of sexual promiscuity are among the messages that have been posted.

Now psychotherapist Jane Taylor, who counsels workers at Fox’s Biscuits and Uttoxeter school pupils, wants to see online bullies prosecuted for their actions.

Ms Taylor, who is based at Uttoxeter’s Marjorie Centre and regularly appears on BBC radio stations, said she has seen several victims who have tried to take their own lives due to online bullying.

She said: “I’ve had quite a few Uttoxeter school children come to me with complaints of cyber-bullying.

“Some clients I’ve seen have tried to commit suicide and their families have made them come for counselling.

“The bullies may not even know the affect their behaviour is having and, if they do, something’s gone seriously wrong with our society.

“These people are absolute cowards.”

Ms Taylor wants to see more victims come forward and bring their problems out into the open.

She said this would allow the police to get involved and secure prosecutions.

She said:“The first step towards solving this problem is for people to start taking it seriously.

“Online bullying is particularly harmful because it leaves victims with no escape route.

“If often starts at school or in the workplace and, when victims go home, they’re subjected to more abuse on the internet.

“Ten years ago, people would be able to go home and use that as a safe haven from bullies making their lives a misery.

“But, now, whenever their computer or smart phone bleeps to indicate they have a new online message, it’s absolutely terrifying for them.

“The internet also makes it easy for bullies to hide behind their computer screen and say things they’d never say to victims’ faces.

“And, with the posts being anonymous, victims don’t even know who’s sending them threats or abuse.

“This can make them scared to leave their homes and can lead to agrophobia.”

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