Stop Cyberbullying Day 2013

According to the Cybersmile Foundation, the UK’s first dedicated cyberbullying charity, one in three teenagers are affected by cyberbullying.

Today (Friday 21 June) they are launching a new annual Stop Cyberbullying Day aimed at getting people involved to make a difference both on and off-line.

Councillor Paul Godzik, Convenor of Education, Children and Families, writes about the issue of online bullying and what pupils, parents and staff can do to tackle it.

No child or young person should have to suffer in silence because of online bullying.

With the explosion in technology and social media sites in recent years the opportunities for online bullying have increased dramatically. Young people can be abused and harassed by text, email or through social networking sites in their homes.

This can be a serious problem for a huge number of teenagers and we cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the devastating and tragic effects it can have.

It is a very worrying trend as nearly every schoolchild now has mobile phones or access to the internet allowing bullying to become increasingly more hidden. Parents may think that their child is safe within their bedroom but this is often not the case. 

A concerted effort is taking place across Edinburgh schools to educate our pupils about what is acceptable online behaviour.

All schools have the ‘Keeping Myself eSafe’ materials which deals specifically with online bullying and our secondary schools cover all aspects of bullying in their Personal, Social and Education programme.

All staff receive mandatory child protection training every three years which includes internet safety and we carry out partnership working with the UK Safer Internet Centre.

Our Community Police Officers also have a key role in talking to young people about ‘cyber bullying ‘ and safe use of the internet.

The recent Pilot Joint inspection of Services for Children and Young People in the Edinburgh highlighted a key strength around the safety of children and young people. It said they feel safe within their care services and school environment with bullying being addressed very well within schools. It went on to say that children and young people are helped to acquire the skills they need to keep themselves safe.

This partnership approach shows that teachers, parents and carers all have an equally important role to play in keeping children safe in the family home. I'd encourage all parents to take an interest in your child’s online activity, learn about the latest internet sites and educate your child that not everyone online is who they say they are.

The effect of online bullying can be long-lasting and have a profound impact on a child’s happiness and their performance at school. Everyone has a role to play in keeping young people safe - teachers, parents and police working together can only be for the good of our children.

Children and young people who need to talk can contact ChildLine, the UK’s free, confidential 24-hour helpline, on 0800 1111 or visit childline.org.uk.

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