Stay safe in cyberspace
Thursday 1 October 2009
This year's Anti-Bullying Week takes place
from 16 to 20 November. The focus of the week is cyberbullying
(bullying that involves the use of ICT) and our campaign slogan is
"Stay safe in cyberspace".
We know that the experience of being cyberbullied, as with any
type of bullying, can be very painful for those who are targets.
With increasing numbers of primary age children getting their first
mobile phone, and the potential to access social networking sites*,
it is vital that those closest to children and young people are
able to help and support them.
ABA, along with its 60 member organisations, is encouraging
schools, local authorities and the wider community to use the
cyberbullying theme as a way of thinking about procedures that can
be put into place to help keep children and young people safe. The
ABA briefing pack, sent out to every school in England, develops
this year's theme and includes information and resources to support
the whole school community to explore the issues and take part in
Anti-Bullying Week 2009.
Bullying is not new but some features of cyberbullying make it
different from other forms of bullying. Sadly, through the internet
and mobile phones, children can be cyberbullied 24 hours a day,
seven days a week. Malicious messages can be passed on to hundreds
of people at the click of a button and can stay online for months,
if not years.
Some instances of cyberbullying can be unintentional, such as a
message sent as a joke, or a text forwarded to unintended
recipients. ABA wants those working with children and young people
to pass on the message that being a party to cyberbullying can have
serious consequences now, as well as in the future. Younger
children may find it more difficult to recognise cyberbullying and
they may be unsure of when or who to tell.
Many schools and local authorities are doing excellent
anti-bullying work. Let's make Anti-Bullying Week 2009 a
springboard for activities across the country that will ensure all
children and young people are safe in cyberspace.
Christopher Cloke is chair of ABA. For more information,
www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/ or email email@example.com
Cyberbullying facts and figures
A 2005 study by Sonia Livingstone, UK Children Go Online, found
that of those children surveyed:
• 98 per cent had used the internet
• 75 per cent of nine- to 19-year-olds had accessed the internet
from a computer at home
• 33 per cent of nine- to 19-year-old daily and weekly internet
users had received nasty comments online or by text message
• *Most social networking sites state users need to be aged 13 or
over and request parental consent
• Bullying is not a criminal offence in the UK but there are laws
on harassment or threatening behaviour that can apply, such as
threatening and menacing communications.