Online bullying is one of the biggest child protection challenges of this generation
This week marks the start of Anti-Bullying week. This is a chance to raise awareness and provide support to thousands of children, teenagers, and adults being bullied throughout Britain, as individuals and businesses pledge to 'use their power for good' to help put an end to bullying.
Technology has developed at a huge rate over the past 50 years, and with the increased use of computers and especially smartphones, we have sadly seen an increase in bullying too. 88% in the past 5 years, to be exact. Aside from physical harm, children who are bullied can suffer from lower marks at school, problems sleeping and depression which are just as damaging to children's wellbeing and especially to their confidence. This misuse of tech presents a huge challenge in protecting this generation as they can be targeted 24/7 from anonymous users facing no consequences for their words. Children are now exposed to cyber bullying in the form of nasty texts, online threats, viruses and hurtful comments on social media or gaming sites. And it doesn't stop there – we only have to look at the online abuse Prince Harry's girlfriend Meghan Markle has received recently to show that no-one is safe from bullies, especially in a modern era.
However this is something we can stop. The NSPCC have recorded much higher numbers of children seeking help for online abuse and ChildLine continues to grow as a source of help to children as young as 7 looking for support with bullying.
And whilst tech may have led to an increase in bullying, it is also helping to stamp it out, with various apps such as KnowBullying which is designed to spot any signs of bullying and to encourage children to talk to an adult about their experiences, and STOP!t which is used by schools to allow students to report any cases of bullying. This open way of communication is key if we are to #StompItOut.
We all have a responsibility to help stop bullying. We all have a responsibility to behave appropriately and remember that everyone is human and that everyone is affected by these comments, whether they are in line to be the King of England or a 7 year old being called fat at school.
This week is about promoting confidence in our children, brothers, sisters and their peers, creating a safe environment in schools and letting bullies know that their actions are unacceptable. The Anti-Bullying Alliance have released an official film from St Helens College as you can view below:
So get involved, have these conversations with your children and lets use our power for good and create safe environments for our children.
Written by Emily Hale