Bullying on social media networks is almost at “epidemic” levels says a leading charity - as police reveal complaints about sites such as Facebook and Twitter have dramatically increased in the last 12 months.
“It’s another route for people to bully. It’s bad enough when you’re an adult but we’ve seen cases where websites have been created to abuse people. They get thousands of hits and can reach epidemic levels,” said a spokesman for Beatbullying.
The comments come as Devon and Cornwall Police, revealed its officers are spending huge amounts of time investigation cyber crimes.
Chief Constable Stephen Otter said: “The biggest increase in demand for neighbourhood officers is activity on social media, which results in fights and scuffles outside school gates and so on,’ he told the Plymouth Herald.
The paper quotes statistics which show Facebook related crimes almost doubled between 2009 and 2010 from 115 to 225.
Detective Inspector Simon Snell told the paper online investigations are a “huge problem.”
“So many children have a social media profile out there, they are living their lives on the internet now and that is where some of the problems arise.”
In recent weeks, a series of high profile “trolling” cases have brought the issue of internet bullying to light.
Last week Sean Duffy, 25, from Reading, Berkshire, was jailed for posting videos and messages mocking the deaths of teenagers. In court it was claimed Duffy is an alcoholic, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome.
He wrote abusive messages on Facebook pages and uploaded videos to YouTube in his campaign against the dead youngsters and their families.
Among his victims was Natasha MacBryde, 15, who died when hit by a passenger train near her home in Bromsgrove, Worcs, on Feb 14. The next day Duffy posted comments including “I fell asleep on the track lolz”.
Days later he created a YouTube video called “Tasha the Tank Engine” featuring her face on a picture of Thomas the Tank Engine.
Comedian Dom Joly has also told how he was forced to call police after receiving abuse via Twitter. @deathtojolykids made comments including accusations that his children had cancer and Down’s Syndrome.