Modern curse of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying guidance is available from the Department of Education and Isle of Man Constabulary

Cyberbullying guidance is available from the Department of Education and Isle of Man Constabulary

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Cyberbullying can affect people of all ages, but particularly adolescents and teens.

The term covers the use of online forums and social media through mobile technology, such as mobile phones, tablets or laptops, to bully or harass another person.

Cyber bullying hit the headlines in the UK press recently after a teenage schoolgirl in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, hanged herself.

Hannah Smith was just 14 when she took her own life with her family revealing that she had endured months of torment.

And while there has not been a high profile case in the Isle of Man, the police and the Department of Education and Children (DoE) are working hard against cyberbullying.

Jo Overty, DoE external communications officer, said: ‘All schools have their own anti-bullying policies and these increasingly make reference to cyberbullying.

‘Our approach to staying safe online is three-pronged and centres around helping young people to know how to keep themselves safe, raising awareness among parents of what to look out for regarding internet safety, and raising awareness among professionals and the wider community of the threats to children posed online.

‘We recently held a training session on cyber threats, including ‘‘sexting’’, with staff in schools who are designated as child protection staff – who are in all cases senior teachers and in some cases heads. This training is ongoing.’

Jo continued: ‘In addition, our ICT team holds sessions in school for pupils and parents to raise awareness of the dangers there are online and what to beware of.

‘Peer support groups and school councils and the like are also addressing these issues in individual ways in schools.

‘The DoE plays a part in the Safer Communities’ Group’s work in this area, the group is a subgroup of the Protecting Children Board and is chaired by the police.

‘The most recent survey of young people in the island, conducted by the Youth Service in 2012, revealed that while 31 per cent of young people said they had experienced bullying, 64 per cent said the school had dealt with it in an excellent or good way, and a further 23 per cent satisfactorily. 96 per cent of young people felt safe where they lived, 95 per cent felt safe at school, and 83 per cent felt safe on public transport.’

Isle of Man Constabulary acting chief inspector Phil Shimmin said: ‘All of the constabulary’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams have good links with the island’s schools and regularly assist teaching staff with lessons aimed at keeping children and young people safe, including keeping safe online.

‘The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) has a website which provides information for children and young people of all ages in relation to staying safe online, including articles on cyber bullying and other potential risks.

‘It’s a website which is recommended by the constabulary and other partner agencies whose role involves keeping children and young people safe.’

Statistics on the National Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children, collated from government reports in March 2013, show that 38 per cent of children have been victims of cyber bullying.

The figures also revealed that 31,599 children called ChildLine in 2011-12 about bullying.

To visit the CEOP website recommended by Inspector Shimmin, visit www.thinkuknow.co.uk

You can also find advice from the Department of Education at www2.sch.im/groups/icthome/wiki/f08cd

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