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UCC course to tackle technology-facilitated abuse in Ireland

10 May 2024
  • New initiative designed to help people spot the red flags of technology-facilitated abuse.
  • Technology-facilitated abuse has become a pressing concern in Ireland and worldwide.
  • Creators have collaborated with An Garda Síochána, domestic violence practitioners and cybersecurity experts.

A new initiative aimed at combating Technology-Facilitated Abuse (TFA) has been launched by University College Cork (UCC), Safe Ireland and Cyber Awareness Ireland.

The rise of Technology-Facilitated Abuse has become a pressing concern not only in Ireland but worldwide. Recognising this growing threat, UCC, in collaboration with Safe Ireland and Cyber Awareness Ireland, has developed the first-of-its-kind digital badge course which aims to educate participants on how to recognise and respond to technology-facilitated abuse.

Technology-facilitated abuse encompasses any act that utilises digital tools to perpetrate harm, whether physical, sexual, psychological, social, political, or economic.

The global surge in TFA has prompted countries worldwide to implement tailored initiatives, highlighting the urgent need for safeguarding against technology-enabled abuse and emphasising the importance of custom responses suited to each nation's context. This course is tailored to Ireland’s unique context and aims to ensure individuals facing TFA receive the specialised support they deserve.

Spotting the red flags of technology-facilitated abuse

With the prevalence of digital platforms and devices, perpetrators and threat actors exploit these tools to exert coercion and control over their victims, making it imperative for frontline responders and allied professionals to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to combat this evolving threat.

Rosie Coffey, UCC Cyber Awareness Taskforce and UCC Technology-Facilitated Abuse Project Lead, said: “This course will help people learn to recognise the red flags of technology facilitated abuse and learn how to take the necessary preventative measures. By raising awareness and providing practical tools, we aim to create a safer digital environment for all."

“The course aims to provide learners with an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of TFA, covering topics such as the latest technological advancements, the use of technology for abuse and coercion and recognising signs of TFA,” Rosie said.

Emphasising the critical importance of addressing TFA in today's digital landscape, Mary McDermott, CEO of Safe Ireland, said: "We are increasingly aware that ‘screens’ and tech can help or hurt us. We need to keep clear sight on the way all tech is quickly and continuously weaponised by perpetrators of abuse, to exert coercion and control over their victims."

Safeguarding people across Ireland

The creation of this course stems from the formation of a national Cyber Security Awareness Task Force, comprising industry, academia, and government stakeholders, with the singular objective of educating against TFA and safeguarding individuals within the Irish community.

Over the course of 18 months, the creators have collaborated with a range of experts including An Garda Síochána, domestic violence practitioners, cybersecurity and legal experts to develop a comprehensive curriculum for frontline workers, law enforcement, medical professionals, social workers, other allied professionals.

The benefits of enrolling

This course will provide individuals with the skills to discern between healthy digital interactions and covert forms of abuse. It will help people learn to recognise the red flags of technology facilitated abuse and learn how to take preventative measures, including members of the public, frontline workers or anyone supporting vulnerable members of society, students and university staff.

The course is now available via the UCC website. 

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF