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Speaker will help beat the cyberbullies

Self-worth: A’Ric Jackson

Young people need to build their self-esteem to help them beat cyberbullies, a top US motivational speaker said yesterday.

A’Ric Jackson, author of 5 Things Your Guidance Counsellor Didnt Tell You, will discuss the problem with pupils and parents today as part of the Digital Leadership Conference.

Mr Jackson said: “As a leader in your own life, you get to create a legacy.

“That legacy can be either furthered by what you put out there or it can be tainted by what you put out there.”

Mr Jackson added that cyberbullying had become common as young people became more involved in social media, and increase their exposure to often anonymous attacks.

He said: “Back in the day, bullying was very direct. You knew who it was coming from. It was face-to-face.

“What’s different about cyberbullying is I have known people who will make up anonymous profiles just to put out that information, so not only is the person being bullied but they don’t know where it is coming from.

“It’s harder to go back to school the next day and know what has been said about you, but you have a bunch of people smiling in your face.

“It’s more dangerous because you can’t put a finger on it as quickly.”

Mr Jackson added: “Old- school bullying was simple. You know the person who did it, you go to the parent. Nowadays, with the cyberbullying you can’t pinpoint it that easily, so the healing process takes way longer.”

Mr Jackson said some young people based their self-worth on the reaction they got on social media, which can make online attacks even more devastating.

He added: “It can take a toll, especially if you are the type of person who is used to putting out a picture on Instagram and basing how good the picture is, or how good you are as a person, on the number of likes that you get.

“When you start getting this message that you are not good enough, you’re not worthy or you should take your life, it gets that bad, without having that support system or a strong home structure to make a difference, it can be very harmful.”

Mr Jackson said his main advice for young people who were bullied online was not to read the abuse.

But he added social media users also needed to build the confidence in themselves.

Mr Jackson said: “That makes a huge difference.

“What I would love to see is to get young people’s self-worth in a place where if someone comes at them with something negative, they can say they know what’s going on and delete it and move forward.”

Mr Jackson added that parents should be aware of what their children did online.

He told them: “Remember that you are the parent. I know a lot of parents give their children a phone, but I would say they should be very involved in their use.

“And I highly, highly recommend that during dinner, turn off the phones. Sit down, have a real conversation and talk about the day.

“I have seen parents be feet away from their children and they are texting each other.”

Mr Jackson added: “You also have to be an example of what a responsible user of social media is.

“You can’t tell your children they shouldn’t cyberbully when they see you dogging someone else on Facebook.”

Mr Jackson will speak at the Digital Leadership Conference this afternoon at the Ruth Seaton James Auditorium. A free session of the conference will be open to the public from 6pm to 8pm

Update: This story was amended to change the title of A’Ric Jackson’s book to 5 Things Your Guidance Counsellor Didnt Tell You