Children online

In honour of the UK’s anti-bullying week, we look into the facts about cyber-bullying and outline how you can deal with it.

Serious issue

According to Stop Bullying, cyber-bullying is “bullying that takes place using electronic technology” such as texts, social media and chat apps such as WhatsApp. Examples of this behaviour include spreading rumours on social networking sites and harassing someone by sending them mean texts and emails.

Statistics quoted by Do Something, an organisation that promotes social change amongst young people, indicates that cyber-bullying is becoming more common. Almost 43% of children have been bullied online; 81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person, whilst 63% of teens believe cyber-bullying is becoming a serious issue.

Stop Bullying explains: “Kids who are cyberbullied have a harder time getting away from the behaviour.” This is because of the power of social media sites and other digital technologies; they’re everywhere and this means that you can be bullied 24/7 – even when you’re alone.

Royal initiative

As a society we have become more aware of cyber-bullying and how it affects young people, and a number of initiatives have been launched to curb it.

The International Business Times reported that Prince William and Kate Middleton, who are committed to raising awareness of mental health in young people, recently decided to approach the issue head-on.

The Royal couple have announced that they will hold talks with Twitter and Facebook in 2016 to discuss how the companies can help protect young people from online harassment. A royal aide commented: “As parents themselves, they want to speak out and see what more can be done for young people who are victims of cyber bullying and all forms of bullying.”

Tootoot

Increasingly, there are online tools and apps dedicated to helping people handle cyber-bullying, most recently, an app called Tootoot. This is a programme that provides students with a clear process for reporting and logging cyber-incidents when they occur, so that teachers, senior school staff etc. can resolve the problem.

Designed by specialist safeguarding officers, Tootoot is easy to use once you sign up. It can be accessed anytime, anywhere through iOS, Android, Windows Phones and Blackberry, allowing you to communicate with teachers anonymously. It also gives staff the means to log instances of bullying, and compile reports to ensure that schools have the information they need to act on serious cases.

Tips on handling cyber-bullying

As well as using tools such as Tootoot, there are several things you can do to handle a cyber-bully. This includes:

  • Using privacy settings: The more people who have access to your social media profiles, the more you expose yourself to cyber-bullies. We’d suggest you use the privacy settings on sites such as Facebook and Twitter to ensure only people you trust (family, friends etc.) can see your personal information online.
  • Taking action: There are a number of actions you can take to stop cyber-bullies. Most sites allow you to ‘block’ the bully or ‘report’ their profiles, preventing them from harassing you online. You can also block phone numbers, to stop them from bullying you via text.

Anti-bullying week

If you want to find out how to deal with cyber-bullying, you should check out national anti-bullying week. This is an annual event shows young people how to handle cyber-bullying. This year’s anti-bullying week, which is centred on the ‘make a noise about bullying’ theme, will take place between 16th and 20th November.

It will feature a number of events including creative anti-bullying workshops across the UK and this year’s anti-bullying competition. You can enter the contest, ‘let’s make a noise about bullying,’ for free, and win a range of prizes by demonstrating “how initiatives led by young people can help stop bullying and cyber-bullying for everyone.”

Always a way

It can seem impossible to deal with a cyber-bully who can contact you anytime, anywhere, but remember there’s always something you can do. You can check out anti-bullying week events to educate yourself, utilise online tools and most importantly tell somebody when you’re being harassed through digital channels.