Facebook and BeLonG To Launch Guide to be Kinder Online

Image: Maxwell Photography

Facebook and BeLonG To have launched a guide to tackle the abuse of young LGBTI+ people online entitled: End Bullying, Be Kind Online.

The online guide is launched as part of BeLonG To’s Stand Up Awareness Week, during which all second-level schools in Ireland are encouraged to take a stand against homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, making their school a safe and supportive place for LGBTI+ students.

The End Bullying, Be Kind Online guide provides practical advice and tips on how to react best when you see bullying online; the language that can be used to diffuse a situation; how to support someone being abused online; where online users can seek help; and practical steps to combat online abuse and stay safe on Facebook.

The guide is a response to recent Irish research which reveals that:

  • 50% of LGBTI+ secondary school students are bullied;
  • 67% of students are witnessing bullying of LGBTI+ students at school;
  • 60% of students said that if someone comes out as LGBTI+ in their school, they will be bullied; and
  • One in four LGBTI+ young people have missed school to avoid negative treatment as a result of being LGBTI+

This resource provides information on how to best use Facebook’s safety policies and tools to help keep you safe online, including how to report content, select your audience, be aware of who you are friending and un-friending and blocking people on Facebook.

Facebook is working hard to tackle bullying online, having recently announced a partnership with the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre at DCU, to deliver anti-bullying training to teachers and parents, in every secondary school in the country, beginning in January 2019. This programme will create an all-of-school community approach to tackling online bullying.

Commenting on the launch of the guide, Amy McArdle, Facebook’s Safety Policy Manager for EMEA said:

“We are delighted to partner with BeLonG To Youth Services on this guide to help tackle LGBTI+ bullying online. BeLonG To does tremendous work supporting LGBTI+ young people in Ireland, and through this partnership, we wanted to create a practical resource that will help young people to connect and communicate safely online.

We take safety on Facebook very seriously and want everyone on our platforms to have a positive experience, but we also know that bad things can happen online. This guide will help those experiencing bullying or witnessing it online to take positive and practical action to either tackle or diffuse the situation and comfort those who need it”. 

Moninne Griffith, Executive Director of BeLonG To Youth Services, added:

“Our mission is to create a world where LGBTI+ youth can express who they are, and who they love, without experiencing hate and discrimination. We are delighted to partner with Facebook with this initiative to tackle the abuse of young LGBTI+ people online. By being kind, empathic, and accepting online, we have the power to change the conversation, and create a world where all of our young people feel safe, valued, and equal in their identities and experiences.”

How You Can Make A Positive Difference:

Hear it, Stop It, Don’t Be a Bystander: Stand up for others if you see them being targeted online, don’t be a bystander- support your friends, demonstrate that you’re by their side.

Think Twice: Think twice before posting and consider how your own behaviour might harm others, even if unintentionally. Before you post a comment or a photo, be mindful and ask yourself if it could embarrass or hurt someone. If in doubt, don’t post it – be kind.

Know Where You Can Get Help – Get help if you feel overwhelmed. Report to Facebook or speak to someone you trust – a friend, parent, guardian or teacher. Remember BeLonG To Youth Services provides support, information, and advice for LGBTI+ young people across Ireland.

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