The fight to beat the cyber bullies
Efforts being made by parents and schools against growing problem
PARENTS, teachers and education bosses are waging a new war against cyber bullies across the county.
Our special report today lifts the lid on a growing 21st-century problem, in which playground taunts and classroom teasing are being replaced by online abuse and sexually explicit pictures of children being shared among classmates.
A brave victim of cyber bullying has told how she considered taking her own life when as a teenager she was mercilessly taunted for being a lesbian. She has since beaten her demons and now helps others going through the same ordeal.
The National Union of Teachers has said teachers in Bucks are also at risk of falling victim to cyber bullies and need help to protect themselves from falling victim to abuse as well as guidance in how to help keep children protected from online harm.
And a psychologist has told us what drives cyber bullies to hide behind the internet to torment victims and what needs to be done to stop them making their victims’ lives a misery.
It may sound like depressing reading, but there is some truly inspirational work being done to tackle a problem which to some extent affects every primary and secondary school in Britain.
We talk to headteachers at schools in Bucks to find out about the impressive work being done to raise awareness, protect children and support young people who fall victim to this cruel and cowardly behaviour.
We also hear from an expert at Bucks County Council who leads a team who visit schools to give assemblies about cyber bullying and online safety.
Finally, we provide advice and information if cyber bullying is something which affects you or someone you know.
BULLYING has become a 24/7 problem – it may have been predictable: social media sites where people share comments and photos were bound to attract nasty remarks from some users.
But the scale of the problem is growing and affecting one of the most vulnerable groups in Buckinghamshire – children.
It is a problem every school needs to be ready for. There is impressive work across the county such as at Chalfonts Community College in Chalfont St Peter, which has developed its own strategy for tackling a problem which can affect any school.
County figures are hard to come by because of the confidential nature of reporting a case, but the national statistics are worrying.
ChildLine handled 27,766 counselling sessions where cyberbullying was mentioned as a main concern between April 2013 and March 2014.
Out of that number, 8,253 said the bullying was through social media sites such as Facebook. This is a 35 per cent increase when compared with 2012-2013
Cyber bullying can also include sending unpleasant text or photographs to a person’s phone. Young gay people are even more at risk than their peers, with one in four experiencing homophobic cybe bullying.
The issue also reaches teachers, who can face web abu and online hate groups set up t ridicule them.
The veil of anonymity surrounding online behaviour can be a draw to bullies. We speak to a psychologist to find out why they do it, and to a target of cyber bullying to see just how damaging it can be, as well as teachers, schools and a county council expert to see wh is being done to tackle the problem.