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The Global StopCyberbulling Youth Summit

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Above: Carol Todd, Parry Aftab, Roisin from POSTitPositive, Francesca and Angelina from TeenAngels and Richard Lynch. Picture: Billy Butler

On Thursday May 7, the Global StopCyberbullying Youth Summit took place in the Millennium Theatre in the Limerick Institute of Technology and in Dublin on May 9. Over 200 children from schools in the Midwest aged from 10 to 14 attended the event in Limerick. 

US lawyer Parry Aftab, one of the founders of the field of cyberlaw, is the executive director of WiredSafety.org, a volunteer organization dedicated to online safety. She is the founder of the StopCyberbullying Coalition to help address cyberbullying and digital abuse issues. The StopCyberbullying Coalition members include Facebook, AOL, Microsoft, Build-A-Bear, Procter & Gamble, Google, Yahoo!, Disney, Webkinz, the Girl Scouts of the USA, Buzz Marketing Group, MTV and others. The hashtag #SCB15ie for the Summit was trending worldwide on Thursday.

Accompanying Parry to all her Youth Summits are her ‘TeenAngels’. TeenAngels are very talented teen volunteers between the ages of 13 and 18. TeenAngels design and deliver offline presentations on all aspects of safe, private and responsible Internet and wireless use to other teens, children and parents. The TeenAngels are trained in a comprehensive and intense program on all aspects of the 5Ps (privacy, predators, pornography, pop-ups and piracy). The FBI, FTC and other leading governmental agencies in the United States participate in their training. (Equivalent groups help train TeenAngels outside of the United States.)

The idea is that by educating these special teens, they are also empowering them to help others. Additionally, other young Internet users respond better to messages delivered by their peers.

POSTitPositive is a new program designed by 8 year old Roisin to help other young people learn to post positive things online. She wants everyone to use digital technology to make others feel good about themselves.

Roisin, from Canada, came up with the idea after attending Parry Aftab’s last StopCyberbullying Youth Summit, when she learned how mean some people can be online to others. She thought that by using PostIt notes, kids who were too young for Facebook or Twitter could practice posting positive messages by writing things on the sticky sheets and sharing them with friends in real life. With the help of her family, Roisin covered a big wooden lighthouse with PostIt notes and pictures of PostIt messages sent to her from all around the world.

Speaking at the Summit was Carol Todd, the mother of Amanda Todd who suffered at the hands of bullies who stalked and harassed her, starting in cyberspace and spilling into the schoolyard. Amanda posted a video on YouTube 5 weeks before she took her own life which told the story of her own suffering, in order to save other youths from the same fate.

On September 7, 2012, Amanda posted a 9-minute YouTube video entitled My Story: Struggling, bullying, suicide and self-harm, which showed her using a series of flash cards to tell of her experiences being bullied. The video post went viral after her death on October 10 with news websites from around the world linking to it.

Carol is carrying on Amanda’s dream of helping kids in the Amanda Todd Legacy and Memorial Foundation. This initiative raises money for anti-bullying education and for support programs to help young people with mental health problems. See HERE for more info on Amanda and her legacy.

Barbara Coloroso, an internationally recognized speaker in the areas of parenting, teaching, school discipline, non-violent conflict resolution and reconciliatory justice, and the author of five international bestsellers, addressed the issue of why people cyberbully.

Donegal/ Cavan-based band Wolves of Youth performed, and Mustafa Ahmed delivered a moving spoken-word performance on the issue of being bullied.

Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan spoke at the Summit, “What we want to do is learn from this, learn from the meetings and the break out groups of today, and bring it to people who can change something, change policies … We want a more caring and conclusive society, where bullying is not tolerated.”

At the Youth Summit, people from the audience were brought on stage as a panel to discuss different topics. One panel elaborated on how Cyberbullying works, the players, the methods and the motives. There was a panel that examined the special risks from cyberbullying, such as vulnerable groups, victims of sexual abuse, special-needs, and at-risk youth. Another panel were asked to voice their opinions on what approaches they’d advise to stop cyberbullying, in the fields of Education, Legal Intervention, Raising Awareness, Cyberwellness, Digital Literacy and Support. The closing panel debated justice from cyberbullying. 

The Lions Club also announced at the event that they are distributing over 100,000 leaflets on bullying/cyberbullying.

Check out the StopCyberbullying website here.

Photos by Billy Butler for I Love Limerick 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Photos by Sarah Jane Allen  for I Love Limerick 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the ilovelimerick.com concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.

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