Women's Sport: We should all follow Scotland manager Shelley Kerr's advice and "be kind online"

Following the tragic death of TV presenter Caroline Flack, many people have come forward to not only pay tribute but also discuss their own experiences with social media and call out abusive trolls.

Some of those to speak out have been women working in the world of female football which has shone a light on the online abuse that the women’s game is susceptible to. 

Former Arsenal player, Alex Scott, took to Twitter to pay tribute to Caroline Flack and also address her own mental health.

“With the news over the weekend, I thought it’s important for me to share that there is no shame in going to ask for help.

The Strictly Come Dancing star then revealed that she had been going to therapy following the online abuse she received last year.

“Last year I really struggled to cope with the online abuse/trolling I was getting. I kept quiet from family/friends and tried to hide it with a smile. Feeling low/lonely I went to therapy & continue to do so and it’s one of the best things I have ever done,” her tweet read.

Renée Hector, who last week announced her return to Watford, spoke quite honestly on Twitter about her feelings towards online trolls.

“When are we going to take online abuse seriously? IT IS KILLING PEOPLE. Find them and arrest them. Force people to give identification when opening an account, so people can’t HIDE. Nobody deserves to go through that.”

The defender recently spoke out about her own mental health issues that she’s suffered with for the past year. Hector moved from Watford to Tottenham in 2016, and last January was subject to racial remarks from Sheffield United’s Sophie Jones who was subsequently banned for five games and fined.

Following the episode, Hector found herself on the receiving end of online, racial abuse which began to affect her mental health. The defender moved from Tottenham to Charlton Athletic but only stayed for three months before citing ‘personal issues’ as her reason for leaving. 

She has since been very vocal about the effects of online trolling.

“The online abuse affected me really deeply. I started sinking into depression because there were lots of insecurities that I had already and it was highlighted for the world to see,” she said.

Scotland manager Shelley Kerr is the latest figure in women’s football to step forward and talk about online abuse, stating that social media channels can be “very, very cruel”.

Kerr recently announced her squad for the Pinatar Cup and took the opportunity to urge people to be kinder online.

“I think across the board people need to be kinder. I think some of the critiques can be personal. And, you know, it’s not just for the players, it’s for the staff as well.

“Social channels can be very, very cruel. And I think it’s hard when you’re in the spotlight. It can be really, really challenging and difficult so we need to be mindful of that,” she explained.

The Scotland manager revealed that her team have a system in place to help support players with online trolling and abuse.

“We have hotline numbers that players can get access to and there are support mechanisms there if the players have any issues at all or face challenges that they can get the right support for.”

If you, or anyone you know, are affected by the topics of online abuse and trolling, it is important to reach out. For help and information visit Get Safe Online.

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