Recently, there has been an increase in the amount of children being sent abusive messages. This is a relatively new phenomenon of bullying which presents a particular difficulty for parents. Text messages afford a bully relative anonymity as anyone can purchase a disposable sim card and use it to send anonymous text messages at any time and any place. Text messages allow bullies to say things they would never normally dare to say to someone's face. This can be especially distressing for the victim as they may or may not know who the sender is and may be receiving upsetting messages day and night.
Teenagers are particularly exposed to this form of bullying as they use their mobile phones as their main source of communication with their peers. It is unrealistic for parents to remove the phones from them. It is important that your child is aware of your feelings about this form of bullying and that they understand that they will have to get help if they are being bullied in this way. Advise your child to be very careful when giving out their number and instruct them to only give it to people they trust.
Keep any abusive messages in the phone memory and keep a log of messages. If necessary, change the number and give it to friends and family. Young people should be advised to resist the temptation to respond to offensive messages and never to engage with bullies.
If the matter is serious enough, it may need to be brought to the attention of the guards. Mobile phone companies will cooperate with the police in tracing mobile numbers used in bullying cases, though they will need this instruction from the guards themselves. In Ireland it is an offence to send malicious or threatening text messages.