'Cyber bullies should be prosecuted', says victim after years of abuse on Facebook

Amber Barry suffered depression because of cyber bullying

Amber Barry with her father, Michael

First published in Crime The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , news feature writer

CYBER bullies should face prosecution, according to a former victim of vicious online attacks.

Amber Barry was sent hurtful messages on social media sites Facebook and Bebo by a number of pupils at her school over the course of two years from the age of 13 — forcing her to twice change her account.

Miss Barry went through depression and even considered taking her own life because the taunting was so severe.

But with the help of her parents, Michael and Elaine, she was finally placed in a school where she gained the grades to go to Bury College.

The 18-year-old spoke out after a study found that social media bullying is now a bigger problem than email and text abuse.

Miss Barry, who has now nearly completed a health and social care course and wants to work as a pharmacist, believes the problem is only likely to get worse.

Miss Barry said: “I totally back calls that cyber bullies should face prosecution. They made my life miserable for years.

“If they had done it to my face, they would have had to face the music but, because it was behind an online profile, they got away with it.

"I think the threat of prosecution might also act as a deterrent to anyone thinking of doing it.”

Miss Barry’s ordeal started in 2009 when she was just 13.

She said: “I was in year eight. At the time Bebo and Facebook were all the rage and that’s where the bullying began.

“People would send me vicious messages every day, really horrible comments about the way I looked.

“They didn’t like the fact I was speaking to another lad who was a friend of mine, so they’d post comments saying I was doing sexual things with him, all of which weren’t true.

“Every day there would be messages and, after a while, it stopped me going into school. I just couldn’t handle it any more.”

The social media report, by Nottingham Trent University psychology lecturer Dr Lucy Betts, studied 29 children aged 11 to 15.

Dr Betts said: “Increasing digitisation has led to growing concern over the effect this is having on the prevalence of cyberbullying and cyber victimisation.”

Dr Barry Silvert, clinical director for integrated commissioning at NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “GPs often only learn that a young patient is being bullied when it has been going on for some time and is having a negative impact on their health.

“We are now seeing an increasing number of young people in who are struggling with mental health problems linked to bullying, including cyber-bullying.

“Bullying can undermine confidence and cause low self-esteem, anxiety and, in some cases, self-harm or depression.

"I encourage any young people who are being bullied to speak to someone they trust, such as a parent, carer, or teacher, before their mental health begins to suffer.”

The bullying had a profound effect on Miss Barry. Usually happy and sociable, she turned into a recluse who would rarely come out of her room, prompting her parents to find out what was going on.

She said: “I kept thinking: ‘What’s the point?’ I thought it wouldn’t matter if I was no longer here. I didn’t go out at weekends or socialise.

"I just stayed in my room. I got depressed and would sleep all the time.

"I went from being happy and bubbly to locking myself away in my room. When mum confronted me after about a month, I burst into tears and told her.

"It was such a relief to have someone on my side.”

Miss Barry believes it is too easy for a bully to attack people online because untraceable fake profiles are easy to create.

She said: “I think to have a profile you have to prove who you are and that you are a certain age. It’s too easy for 13-year-olds to pretend they are 18.

“What starts off with one or two bullies can quickly escalate into something too much for anyone to handle.

“You can deal with two people, but not faceless Facebook groups. I ended up shutting my Facebook and Bebo accounts for a long time until I was able to get over it.

“In year 11, when I began to make friends, I opened my Facebook account but kept it private and only accepted people I like. I’m careful with it now because it made my life hell.”

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “Bullying is serious and pupils and parents should be assured that they will be fully supported by their school when reporting incidents.”

Comments (13)

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10:22am Wed 28 May 14

Donkey Stone says...

I have never had an account on facebook or twitter and I never will.Why let strangers into your life. Many people place too much importance on social media when it is in fact pointless. Get off and stay off.
I have never had an account on facebook or twitter and I never will.Why let strangers into your life. Many people place too much importance on social media when it is in fact pointless. Get off and stay off. Donkey Stone
  • Score: 13

11:38am Wed 28 May 14

The Running Man says...

Some people rely on it for their only social interactions. Why should they then be bullied by someone just for being there?

We are all different in appearance, outlook, interests and lifestyle; maybe this too is yet another difference that some people just can't tolerate?

As to those who have done the bullying you're a sad lot really, I just hope this never happens to you!

Oh, well done Miss Barry, you aren't an isolated case but you have been brave enough to speak out and that must have taken some courage.
Some people rely on it for their only social interactions. Why should they then be bullied by someone just for being there? We are all different in appearance, outlook, interests and lifestyle; maybe this too is yet another difference that some people just can't tolerate? As to those who have done the bullying you're a sad lot really, I just hope this never happens to you! Oh, well done Miss Barry, you aren't an isolated case but you have been brave enough to speak out and that must have taken some courage. The Running Man
  • Score: 3

12:16pm Wed 28 May 14

Donkey Stone says...

The Running Man wrote:
Some people rely on it for their only social interactions. Why should they then be bullied by someone just for being there?

We are all different in appearance, outlook, interests and lifestyle; maybe this too is yet another difference that some people just can't tolerate?

As to those who have done the bullying you're a sad lot really, I just hope this never happens to you!

Oh, well done Miss Barry, you aren't an isolated case but you have been brave enough to speak out and that must have taken some courage.
I agree with you. Bullying has always been a part of life and always will be. In the past though a bully could not do it in your own home and in secret. Social media seems to have created many problems and solved very few. What is the point of collecting "friends" that you have never met. If something upsets you then don't do it.
[quote][p][bold]The Running Man[/bold] wrote: Some people rely on it for their only social interactions. Why should they then be bullied by someone just for being there? We are all different in appearance, outlook, interests and lifestyle; maybe this too is yet another difference that some people just can't tolerate? As to those who have done the bullying you're a sad lot really, I just hope this never happens to you! Oh, well done Miss Barry, you aren't an isolated case but you have been brave enough to speak out and that must have taken some courage.[/p][/quote]I agree with you. Bullying has always been a part of life and always will be. In the past though a bully could not do it in your own home and in secret. Social media seems to have created many problems and solved very few. What is the point of collecting "friends" that you have never met. If something upsets you then don't do it. Donkey Stone
  • Score: 12

12:17pm Wed 28 May 14

Fergis says...

Dont go on facebook typical crap... Simpled
Dont go on facebook typical crap... Simpled Fergis
  • Score: 8

2:49pm Wed 28 May 14

mr.mark.c says...

The privacy settings are all there, use them.
The privacy settings are all there, use them. mr.mark.c
  • Score: 5

3:51pm Wed 28 May 14

Amber-paige says...

You want to know something?

This is my article. I was severly bullied for years. I have been called for the way i looked then and the way i look now. Did i ever let it get to me? Yes i did. But it helped me to become stronger. The abuse i recieve makes me stronger. I havent done this article for myself, ive raised awareness and helped towards a campaign. I wouldnt like anybody to go throught what ive been through. As for deactivate my facebook, cant you read? I deactivate it for over 3 years. I realised when i grew some balls to stick up for myself that i would reactivate it and not take note of the bullies. After all wofly boy im amber-paige barry. Ive got through the bullying through support offfamily. I now have very close friends from college and im stronger than ever. Ive succeeded.
You want to know something? This is my article. I was severly bullied for years. I have been called for the way i looked then and the way i look now. Did i ever let it get to me? Yes i did. But it helped me to become stronger. The abuse i recieve makes me stronger. I havent done this article for myself, ive raised awareness and helped towards a campaign. I wouldnt like anybody to go throught what ive been through. As for deactivate my facebook, cant you read? I deactivate it for over 3 years. I realised when i grew some balls to stick up for myself that i would reactivate it and not take note of the bullies. After all wofly boy im amber-paige barry. Ive got through the bullying through support offfamily. I now have very close friends from college and im stronger than ever. Ive succeeded. Amber-paige
  • Score: 3

5:11pm Wed 28 May 14

cosmicma says...

the biggest problem with bullying be it cyber or at school is that schools do not want there name attached to bullying of any kind and is swept under the carpet so to speak.
in stead of schools tackling the problem they will try to find any alternative as to why the bullying is taking place to a point of blaming the victim of the bullying
they will tell you it is not acceptable and will look into it but nothing ever happens to address the situation they just want you to shut up about it so their stats are not affected and this will carry on until the victim leaves school

if you think you can put a complaint in against the school forget it there is a procedure to follow which consists of complaining to the school then to the head of school and finally to the board of governors
if you look at the list of governors for the school you will probably notice the head of school sits on the panel and the board of governors have the option to send the complaint back to the head of school
you see where i'm going with this ?

the cyber part of bullying is usually a spin off from the school bullying if the schools addressed the bullying in the first place there's a good chance the cyber part would be nipped in the bud or at least minimized

it's already an offence to abuse or cause alarm or distress via social media but it's way down the list when it comes to treating it as a crime
it shouldn't be it does affect people more than is admitted and definitely affects school grades

i blame the schools for not addressing the bullying problem in the first place
the biggest problem with bullying be it cyber or at school is that schools do not want there name attached to bullying of any kind and is swept under the carpet so to speak. in stead of schools tackling the problem they will try to find any alternative as to why the bullying is taking place to a point of blaming the victim of the bullying they will tell you it is not acceptable and will look into it but nothing ever happens to address the situation they just want you to shut up about it so their stats are not affected and this will carry on until the victim leaves school if you think you can put a complaint in against the school forget it there is a procedure to follow which consists of complaining to the school then to the head of school and finally to the board of governors if you look at the list of governors for the school you will probably notice the head of school sits on the panel and the board of governors have the option to send the complaint back to the head of school you see where i'm going with this ? the cyber part of bullying is usually a spin off from the school bullying if the schools addressed the bullying in the first place there's a good chance the cyber part would be nipped in the bud or at least minimized it's already an offence to abuse or cause alarm or distress via social media but it's way down the list when it comes to treating it as a crime it shouldn't be it does affect people more than is admitted and definitely affects school grades i blame the schools for not addressing the bullying problem in the first place cosmicma
  • Score: 1

7:20pm Wed 28 May 14

mr.mark.c says...

I dont mean to be picky, maybe the BN got it wrong, you say it started in year 8 and you was bullied over the course of two years, you just posted that you closed the account for 3 years yet in the article you say you reopened it in year 11 as private.
It kind of doesnt add up.
I dont mean to be picky, maybe the BN got it wrong, you say it started in year 8 and you was bullied over the course of two years, you just posted that you closed the account for 3 years yet in the article you say you reopened it in year 11 as private. It kind of doesnt add up. mr.mark.c
  • Score: -3

10:30pm Wed 28 May 14

Jacob C says...

mr.mark.c wrote:
I dont mean to be picky, maybe the BN got it wrong, you say it started in year 8 and you was bullied over the course of two years, you just posted that you closed the account for 3 years yet in the article you say you reopened it in year 11 as private.
It kind of doesnt add up.
leave her alone she does not owe you an explanation
Good luck for the future Amber
[quote][p][bold]mr.mark.c[/bold] wrote: I dont mean to be picky, maybe the BN got it wrong, you say it started in year 8 and you was bullied over the course of two years, you just posted that you closed the account for 3 years yet in the article you say you reopened it in year 11 as private. It kind of doesnt add up.[/p][/quote]leave her alone she does not owe you an explanation Good luck for the future Amber Jacob C
  • Score: 1

12:22am Thu 29 May 14

Amber-paige says...

The start of year 8. The account was reopened the start of year 11. 3 years. I think its added up :)
The start of year 8. The account was reopened the start of year 11. 3 years. I think its added up :) Amber-paige
  • Score: 1

12:25am Thu 29 May 14

Amber-paige says...

Jacob C wrote:
mr.mark.c wrote:
I dont mean to be picky, maybe the BN got it wrong, you say it started in year 8 and you was bullied over the course of two years, you just posted that you closed the account for 3 years yet in the article you say you reopened it in year 11 as private.
It kind of doesnt add up.
leave her alone she does not owe you an explanation
Good luck for the future Amber
Thankyou jacob :)
[quote][p][bold]Jacob C[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]mr.mark.c[/bold] wrote: I dont mean to be picky, maybe the BN got it wrong, you say it started in year 8 and you was bullied over the course of two years, you just posted that you closed the account for 3 years yet in the article you say you reopened it in year 11 as private. It kind of doesnt add up.[/p][/quote]leave her alone she does not owe you an explanation Good luck for the future Amber[/p][/quote]Thankyou jacob :) Amber-paige
  • Score: 0

12:42am Thu 29 May 14

Mozzerjnr says...

People making comments, questioning stuff that apparently doesnt add up.... Absolutely beyond the point! She has done this article for no gain of her own, she has done it in the hope that anyone suffering anything similar can see a light at the end of the tunnel! To maybe give someone the courage to tell someone and not go through it alone!

Why does she have to answer whether something adds up? BN have worded this themselves and certain points arent to the exact truth but thats come from them not amber...

Instead of people making smart arse comments about the way she looks (as one comment was made before, then got removed) or questioning wether something adds up or not she has done this to raise awareness! So get off her back!!

She's been through alot and doesnt need judging off people who dont know her!

Id appreciate people not making comments to belittle my girlfriend or question her!
People making comments, questioning stuff that apparently doesnt add up.... Absolutely beyond the point! She has done this article for no gain of her own, she has done it in the hope that anyone suffering anything similar can see a light at the end of the tunnel! To maybe give someone the courage to tell someone and not go through it alone! Why does she have to answer whether something adds up? BN have worded this themselves and certain points arent to the exact truth but thats come from them not amber... Instead of people making smart arse comments about the way she looks (as one comment was made before, then got removed) or questioning wether something adds up or not she has done this to raise awareness! So get off her back!! She's been through alot and doesnt need judging off people who dont know her! Id appreciate people not making comments to belittle my girlfriend or question her! Mozzerjnr
  • Score: 3

10:08am Fri 30 May 14

Gore Seer says...

I Was Called To My Grandsons School, He Was Nine Years, He Had Been Misbehaving So I Sat In His Class For Half A Hour, The Teach Was About Twenty Five, She Was Very Bombastic While Teaching These Children, Her Method Surprised Me, I Went To Clarendon Street School, In The Sixty It Was A Rough School, Yes Corporal Punishment Was Used, But The Teachers Were Not Bullish, Yes Today Schools Have Targets, My Grandson Was Expelled, He Had Been Bully Twice In One Day By A Indian Boy, So He Retaliated And Stud Up To His Bully Thrown Out Of School Parents Had No Say.
I Was Called To My Grandsons School, He Was Nine Years, He Had Been Misbehaving So I Sat In His Class For Half A Hour, The Teach Was About Twenty Five, She Was Very Bombastic While Teaching These Children, Her Method Surprised Me, I Went To Clarendon Street School, In The Sixty It Was A Rough School, Yes Corporal Punishment Was Used, But The Teachers Were Not Bullish, Yes Today Schools Have Targets, My Grandson Was Expelled, He Had Been Bully Twice In One Day By A Indian Boy, So He Retaliated And Stud Up To His Bully Thrown Out Of School Parents Had No Say. Gore Seer
  • Score: 0

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