We must protect our kids from on­line bul­ly­ing

Iran Daily - - Society - By Nick Gibb*

All bul­ly­ing is cruel and un­ac­cept­able. No one de­serves to spend their child­hood be­ing tor­mented or ha­rassed, whether phys­i­cally or men­tally, in the play­ground or at home on their lap­top.

On ‘Stand up to bul­ly­ing day’, I wel­come new re­search that shows schools are start­ing to see im­por­tant progress with stamp­ing out vi­o­lent and phys­i­cal bul­ly­ing. Be­tween 2006 and 2015, the pro­por­tion of teenagers re­port­ing threats of vi­o­lence at school — or ac­tual vi­o­lence — fell. This is due to schools in­tro­duc­ing ef­fec­tive an­tibul­ly­ing poli­cies that protect their pupils, and putting teach­ers back in charge of their class­rooms by com­bat­ting dis­rup­tion and poor be­hav­ior, tele­graph.co.uk wrote.

But along­side th­ese pos­i­tives, to­day’s re­search also highlights the threat of a rel­a­tively re­cent phe­nom­e­non: Cy­ber bul­ly­ing. Teenagers are now in­creas­ingly re­port­ing be­ing abused, threat­ened and ex­cluded on­line.

For the first time, cy­ber­bul­ly­ing is re­ported as a spe­cific con­cern for 10 per­cent of those in­ter­viewed.

The in­ter­net has opened up a world of op­por­tu­ni­ties for chil­dren grow­ing up to­day. It is a net­work for friends to con­nect with each other, a learn­ing re­source to help with their stud­ies, a stage to show­case their tal­ents and a lens to ex­plore the world.

But for par­ents, most of whom did not grow up with smartphones or so­cial media, there ex­ists a clear and un­der­stand­able worry that the in­ter­net has brought new dan­gers in to our chil­dren’s lives which are of­ten hid­den from us. They may be un­aware of the web­sites their chil­dren can ac­cess with­out per­mis­sion, or the ad­dic­tive and vi­o­lent video games they can down­load for free de­spite be­ing un­der­age. Mon­i­tor­ing what chil­dren are ac­cess­ing on­line can seem like an impossible and never-end­ing task.

What might seem like harm­less teas­ing to out­siders can fol­low a child home, build­ing up to the point that it be­comes in­tol­er­a­ble. A com­ment made on a group chat on­line, or an image posted on a so­cial media site, can make it all over school by the fol­low­ing day — the old adage that ‘news trav­els fast’ is es­pe­cially true in to­day’s con­nected world. The op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate in bul­ly­ing in­di­rectly by join­ing in with a joke on­line is greater.

In re­sponse, schools are adopt­ing in­no­va­tive approaches. In­stead of try­ing to stop chil­dren from us­ing the in­ter­net, staff at Water­loo Pri­mary School in Mersey­side fo­cus in­stead on de­vel­op­ing their ‘so­cial con­science’ — teach­ing them how to be­have on­line and dis­cussing how on­line state­ments might make oth­ers feel, es­pe­cially when seen by a large au­di­ence. The school also works closely with par­ents to re­in­force the pos­i­tive work done at school, in­clud­ing through an app to their phones that sign­post help­ful re­sources on their web­site.

The Tele­graph’s ‘Duty of Care’ cam­paign, launched this week, is a wel­come ad­di­tion to the many voices help­ing to shine a light on the is­sue of pro­tect­ing chil­dren on­line

The gov­ern­ment will soon be in­clud­ing in­ter­net safety and we will be talk­ing to young peo­ple, par­ents and teach­ers about the best way to do this. We will look at which schools are tak­ing a suc­cess­ful ap­proach al­ready and share best prac­tice. We are work­ing hard to give both schools and par­ents the sup­port they need to for help­ing chil­dren cope with the chal­lenges of the mod­ern world. We are pro­vid­ing guid­ance to schools about the se­ri­ous is­sue of cy­ber­bul­ly­ing and ad­vice on tack­ling on­line ha­rass­ment. Our ‘Ed­u­cate against hate’ web­site pro­vides re­sources that help schools and par­ents protect chil­dren from the risks of on­line ex­trem­ism.

The Tele­graph’s ‘Duty of care’ cam­paign, launched this week, is a wel­come ad­di­tion to the many voices help­ing to shine a light on the is­sue of pro­tect­ing chil­dren on­line. Ul­ti­mately, it’s a job in which we all share re­spon­si­bil­ity — par­ents, teach­ers, busi­nesses and gov­ern­ment.

That’s why to­day we will take a col­lec­tive stand against bul­ly­ing by sup­port­ing ‘Stand up to bul­ly­ing’ day and help­ing to shape the kind of so­ci­ety we want for our fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

*Nick Gibb stan­dards. is the UK min­is­ter for school

Pub­lished by datare­cov­ery.co.nz

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