“Life sucks” conference highlights devastating effects of cyberbullying

The following is a news story from Hafal’s Big Lottery-funded Young People’s Information Hub. To access the Hub please visit: http://www.hafal.org/hafal/yp_index.php

Hafal’s Young People’s Information Officer John Gilheaney recently attended the third annual Siaradwn Ni Let’s Talk conference.

Held in Margam near Port Talbot, the conference featured speakers including Children’s Commissioner for Wales Keith Towler and highlighted the sometimes tragic consequences of cyberbullying.

Commenting on the conference’s theme John said: “The devastating impact cyberbullying can have on families and on the mental and emotional wellbeing of young people was forcefully brought home during an exercise School Liaison Police Officers Steve Carpenter, Chris Warlow and John Stewart asked attendees to do. Each conference table was given a picture of a teenager and asked to describe them as a teen might, whether it be in complimentary or derogatory terms. It was an uncomfortable undertaking.

“At the end of the exercise the Police read out each table’s feedback. Some of it was wise, some comments were funny, some words were cruel – though that was, of course, no reflection of the people who fed back these views. After hearing our feedback the Police revealed that each of the teens they asked us to describe had taken their lives because of cyberbullying. It really brought home the dangers of the internet and how vulnerable young people can be.”

The Siaradwn Ni – Let’s Talk project is a 5 year project, funded to help reduce suicide and mental health stigma across Bridgend and Neath Port Talbot County Boroughs. Siaradwn Ni – Let’s Talk aims to promote positive mental wellbeing, reduce barriers to accessing support, provide training and support people who might be affected by mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or self-harm. For more information please visit: http://www.siaradwnni.org.uk/