Source: Times Education

Bullying is always an emotional issue, and one which I have often posted about on School Gate. However, there are many different types of bullying, and cyber-bullying is one sort which seems to becoming more and more common.

Today marks the beginning of National Bullying Week. It also sees the release of a new survey by the Anti-Bullying Alliance(ABA) which reveals that one in five primary school pupils have been cyber-bullied in the past year. How sad.

The survey also reports that almost a quarter of 10 and 11 year olds have no idea how to protect themselves against cyber-bullying, but that more than half of them use social networking sites.

Michael Castle, who’s 18, is a member of the South East Young ABA. Here he explains what he does and how to try and prevent or stop cyber-bullying. I’ve also put some of his tips on the end of the piece.

Over to Michael:

Cyberbullying is a growing problem, especially as children and young people are getting mobile phones and computer access at an earlier age. Social networking sites have become popular with young people but bullying on them can be a problem too. It’s an area that young people may not be familiar with, which is why it’s such an important focus for Young ABA to help protect vulnerable young people. Children and young people who are being cyber-bullied need to know that there is support available.

Young ABA was set up in October 2007 by the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) in partnership with the Diana Anti-Bullying Award. Young ABA is a powerful group of young people, representing the nine regional government offices in England. Each of the current board members has received the prestigious Diana Anti-Bullying Award for work on peer support, mediation and mentoring. Our aim is to give a voice to young people and to help adults think about the best ways to address bullying. We work closely with the DCSF and policy makers in the UK as well as with other Diana Anti-Bullying Award holders across England to help spearhead anti-bullying campaigns.

I have been the South East representative for the Young Anti-Bullying Alliance for the past year. Being part of the board is a great experience and I am personally very proud to have been given this fantastic opportunity.  My experience of the work we do as Young ABA is vast. We are a vital taskforce of young people who represent and act as spokespeople for young people in the UK. We attend meetings with the DCSF, visit schools to run workshops, run conferences, and use our expertise and own experiences to help and mentor other young people aiming to stop bullying.

For Anti-Bullying Week 2009, I attended a Young ABA residential where we received training on public speaking and the media. I also helped with the national launch of Anti-Bullying Week, which was held at the Science Museum on Thursday 12 November. I have meetings planned to discuss Young ABA’s role for the 20th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and am heading to the West Midlands to run cyberbullying workshops for primary and secondary schools.

Young people or parents who want advice about cyber-bullying can visit our website

Tips for children and young people to prevent cyberbullying:

• Don’t give out personal details such as your mobile number, address or email online
• Regularly check and clean your ‘friends’ lists on social networking sites
• Keep evidence – callers and mailers can be traced
• Find the ‘report abuse’ or ‘block sender’ options on your favourite websites
• Remember that sites you’ve created and emails you’ve sent can be traced back to you months or years later
• Protect your password to keep your files and information safe
• If you are being bullied in any way you must tell someone who can help – a teacher, parent/carer, friend, sister/brother or other relative.
Tips for parents/carers on cyber-bullying
• Know which websites your children visit and help them find the ‘report abuse’ or ‘block sender’ options so they can feel in control
• Tell your children not to reply to unpleasant messages
• Urge them to keep evidence – not to delete bullying texts, emails or posts on social networking sites
• Make sure they act thoughtfully in cyberspace  – comments and photos can stay online forever and texts can be forwarded widely
• Ensure they protect their password to keep their files and information safe
• Encourage them to take action and talk to you if they are cyber-bullied

Tips for parents/carers to help spot the signs of bullying
You may be unsure if your child is being bullied. If you suspect that this may be happening, look out for the following signs. You may see one or more signs, for example your child could:

• Show signs of stress – being moody, silent or crying, or bullying a younger sibling or friend
• Make excuses to miss school, such as stomach complaints or headaches (or your child may be skipping school altogether)
• Seem upset after using the internet or mobile, or change their behaviour – for example, no longer wanting to look at new text messages immediately –and be secretive and unwilling to talk about their online activities and phone use
• Be withdrawn in their behaviour
• Have more bruises or scrapes than usual
• Change their eating habits
• Have torn clothes, school things that are broken or missing, or have ‘lost’ money
• Sleep badly
• Wet the bed.
There could be other reasons for these signs, so you need to ask yourself:
• Could there be anything else bothering your child?
• Could there be changes in your family life like a new baby, or divorce or separation that may be affecting your child’s behaviour?
For further support and advice contact the following organisations

Parentline Plus
Immediate support and advice for parents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
0808 800 2222

A telephone helpline for parents and carers of bullied children.
08451 205 204

Advisory Centre for Education
Advice for parents and children on all school matters.
0808 800 5793

Children’s Legal Centre
Free legal advice on all aspects of the law affecting children and young people.
08451 202948

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre is dedicated to eradicating the sexual abuse of children. CEOP also provides help and advice on cyberbullying and maintains a website for childrenand young people about staying safe online.