Parents of Cyberbullying Victim in Belize Speak Out

Parents of Cyberbullying Victim in Belize Speak Out

A cyberbullying victim’s parents are speaking out in Belize against the alarming practice of posting nude photos of young girls online.

The couple sit facing away from the camera as they recount the episode that forever changed their daughter’s life. The father, slowly and in a plaintive voice, says someone accessed the photo from her social media account and reposted it to a public site. With just a few clicks, the damage had already been done.

“It was a huge blow to our family when it happened. Me and her mother, we tried to be strong for her, and supported her in every way possible, and to try to get over it. It was a terrible thing for her,” he says.

“Be bold for change against cyber violence!” shouts the mother, firing a parting shot in the final frames.

The parents’ testimony is part of an online anti-cyberbullying campaign spearheaded by the U.S. Embassy in Belmopan. The campaign gives voice to a nationwide concern at the trend of posting nude photos and videos of girls and women.

Also speaking out is Kim Simplis-Barrow, wife of Belizean Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who is calling for urgent action to protect women and girls from the use of the Internet as “a vehicle for gender-based violence.”

“Globally, cyber criminals are using the Internet for abuse and exploitation, putting our most vulnerable populations at risk. Here in Belize, we have had our own struggle with these issues,” she said.

Pedophiles, rapists and human traffickers must not be allowed to continue using popular Internet-based social media platforms as “a digital hunting grounds”, she said.

The First Lady, who is also the country’s Special Envoy for Women and Children, has worked to bring child sexual exploitation into the domain of public discourse and action.

“Belize is ill-prepared legally and otherwise to effectively address these challenges,” she said.

Speaking at the country’s first-ever national cybersecurity symposium, held in Belize City in April, her brief remarks made a simple yet powerful point: there can be no citizen security without cybersecurity.

The message found support from a powerful ally.

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SOURCE: Curacao Chronicle