Updated: Jan 4
Online trolls can be found and punished.
‘Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me?’
This is a saying that many of us will have heard growing up. I know it’s something that I was told if someone at school had said something unkind or hurtful that made me upset. When I heard it, I would have about 5 seconds of feeling great before going back into my feelings of hurt that I had before.
Why was this the case? Because words can have a devastating and long lasting impact on our lives and well being, with potentially fatal consequences, as shared by Dr. M. Scott. Peck, who was one of the most highly regarded psychologists in the world;
'You can kill a man without touching a hair on his head'
The devastating impact of ‘words’ is something that has been expressed by former BBC breakfast presenter Louise Minchin in this article where she responds to the jailing of Carl Davies, someone who trolled her repeatedly, sending her many abusive messages, incluing sharing her address, and stating that he would rape her and her daughter before saying
“move or you’re f***ed”.
Mr. Davies has been sentenced to 2 years and 8 months in prison, and Louise Minchin has responded by expressing that she hopes it “sends a message that online trolls can be found and punished”.
There are two crucial areas I wanted to highlight here through Louise Minchin's terrible experiences, the first is that online trolling can have a devastating impact on people’s lives.
As stated in an article written by Evita March, a senior Lecturer in psychology at the Federation University Australia;
“Trolling can cause significant harm and distress. It is associated with serious physical and psychological effects, including disrupted sleep, lowered self-esteem, depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and in some cases, even suicide”
The second distinction here is that trolling, whether online or offline is criminal behaviour and that those who take part in can be held accountable by law. This is a powerful message of hope for so many who are suffering from online abuse right now, and to find out more about how you can get involved in our work against online trolls, or if you are in need of any support or guidance, please visit our Parents Against Trolls and Trolling site to get in touch.