We must all pull together to beat the online bullies

Ewan McGregor  as Renton in Trainspotting - the gender neutral toilets Zella has visited are almost as grubby

ZELLA COMPTON: Men – just aim it in the right direction and we’ll all be happy!

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It’s surprising to see how quickly just a little bit of conscientious digging has unravelled such a horrifying can of worms.

If it wasn’t for the swift action of one or two individuals, the vile campaign of online abuse creeping through our schools might not have come to light.

As it is, eight Facebook sites have now been shut down, putting an end to the misery caused to those who found themselves on the receiving end of some truly depraved taunts.

We praise those teachers who showed the care and initiative required to investigate this matter for themselves.

What they found left them in no doubt about what they must do next and the police also deserve praise for the decisions they have made in dealing with this issue.

There’s nothing wrong with reading children the riot act. In fact, there are a good many people who would suggest that’s something we could do with seeing more of, not less.

Now those pupils involved have a short period of grace in which to remove themselves from the offending sites.

We’re certain that the vast majority will do so and we can only hope that they learn a valuable lesson from this.

If they foolishly ignore the amnesty, they must know that they could face criminal charges.

We’re sure that some will have been tempted to join in with the bullying because of peer pressure or ignorance rather than any malicious intent. But bullying of any kind should never be accepted.

It’s worrying to think that none of those targeted raised the alarm themselves. Questions should be asked about whether our children really know how to deal with the problem of online bullying.

With the growth of the internet, we’ve all seen how cyber bullying has spread its tentacles.

Schools, parents and pupils must learn new ways to halt this nasty form of abuse in its tracks.

We don’t believe sites like Facebook require government intervention.

But online communities must find adequate ways to police themselves through better self-regulation.