Sharp rise in online bullying reported by Childline

November 14th 2016

Childline – the advice and counselling service run by children’s charity NSPCC – has revealed that it counselled more than 4,500 children who had been affected by online bullying in the past year, compared with approximately 2,400 in 2011-12. This represents an 88% increase. The actual number suffering online abuse is thought to be considerably higher.

The report marks the launch of this year’s Anti-Bullying Week – co-ordinated by the Anti-Bullying Alliance, which works with parents, schools and other organisations to address the problem. The week has been given the theme of 'Power for Good'. 

Children as young as seven years old told the helpline how they have been abused, tormented and humiliated, causing them misery to the point where they were frightened to go to school.

Childline President Dame Esther Rantzen said: "Bullying can wreck young people's lives, especially now that the bullies don't stop at the school gates. Cyber bullying can follow them home until it becomes a persecution they cannot escape.”

Dame Esther continued: "It is imperative that adults, parents and teachers, intervene to protect them, because we have learned over the years from Childline callers that bullying does not stop on its own, left alone it gets worse.”

She added that schools must take the problem seriously, and children must ask for help."

Advice for parents and carers

Parents and carers have a vital role in supporting children with bullying issues. The Anti-Bullying Alliance gives this advice:

– Know the signs that a child might be experiencing bullying. Consider how you would help and who you could turn to for advice. 

– Find out how your child's school deals with bullying. Ask to see a copy of the school anti-bullying policy (this might be part of the school behaviour policy). Find out if there are opportunities for parents and pupils to input to the policy, to share what is working well and to input ideas for change.

– Make sure your child knows they can talk to you if they have any worries or concerns.

– Help them to understand the difference between falling out with friends, being a bit mean and signs that they might be experiencing bullying. Bullying is persistent, there’s an intent to cause harm and there’s an abuse of power.

– Support your child to grow in confidence, to make friends in a variety of settings and to take part in activities that build their self-esteem. Talk about how they might respond if someone calls them names or tries to hurt them. What could they say back? Who could they go to for help depending on the situation?

– Make sure you’re a good role model. Little eyes are always watching us. How we manage conflict in our relationships and how we treat other people has a big impact on our children.

More comprehensive advice for parents and carers, along with tips for teachers and advice for children and young people themselves, can be found here:

By Get Safe Online

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