Northern Ireland

Facebook cyber bullying efforts shown to young ambassadors

Facebook conference in Dublin
Image caption Pupils from Northern Ireland took part in the event at Facebook's European headquarters in Dublin

Facebook has faced lots of criticism over recent years for not doing enough to tackle bullying that goes on in its website.

So now the company is trying to change that image, and take a more proactive approach to cyber bullying.

Pupils from Northern Ireland were among those invited to Facebook's European headquarters to receive awards for their work to combat bullying and to learn more about safety on social media sites.

Anti-bullying ambassadors from 94 schools across the island of Ireland have now been trained by the Diana Award to help prevent both online and off-line bullying.

Image caption Zoe Taylor said it has been good to be involved

Students from Parkhall Integrated School in Antrim are the latest to join the scheme.

Twelve of them have volunteered to help younger pupils, and make sure they always have someone to talk to.

Zoe Taylor said it has been good to be involved.

"It's made quite a lot of difference because it means everyone has someone to come to if they feel like they are getting bullied," she said.

Jade Taff said she has experienced younger pupils coming to talk to her because of cyber bullying.

'Hidden'

"They're just nasty, it's hard to think people would say something like that," she said.

"It is cyber bullying so people keep it hidden. But they can show us the messages and if it's serious we can take it to the year head and get it sorted straight away.

Taylor Nixon said that it helps for people to speak to someone who has had experience of being bullied.

"We know what to do because we are children, so we address people the way we would want to be addressed," she said.

Increasingly the type of bullying that takes place among young people is online but advice and training for young people has often lagged behind the technological developments.

At this year's anti-bullying awards in Dublin, Facebook launched a set of online safety videos which they put together with the anti-bullying ambassadors.

Image caption Julie de Bailliencourt said safety was a "shared conversation between parents, teachers, teenagers and the industry"

They are designed to help young people stay safe on Facebook, and understand what they can do if they do become a victim of cyber-bullying.

But, is this too little too late from the world's largest social media site?

Julie de Bailliencourt, Facebook's safety policy manager, does not think they have been too slow to act.

"Safety is a shared conversation between parents, teachers, teenagers and the industry such as Facebook," she said.

"We have lots of different initiatives in different countries and it's something we care very much about.

"We do not allow bullying on Facebook, we just want to make sure we have the right tools and policies in place so that our community and teens in particular really feel safe interacting on Facebook."

Bullying is an age-old problem, that's never going to go away, but the training now being given to school children of all ages is at least beginning to help them deal with the bullying that happens on their generation's technology.

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