Cyberbullying: How to keep your children safe

According to charity BeatBullying, one in three young people has been a victim - with a fifth of children admitting they were reluctant to go to school because of it.

Cyberbullying is on the increase

Three out of four secondary school teachers admit they have encountered cyberbullying - and the hi-tech attacks against pupils are increasing.

According to research to mark today's Stop Cyber-bullying Day - organised by charity Cybersmile - 77% of those educating British kids believe the situation has worsened in the last three years.

Cyber-bullying can take many forms - offensive postings on social networks, anonymous email threats or vile, homophobic or abusive text and picture messages being sent to the victim or spread around a school about them.

According to charity BeatBullying, one in three young people has been a victim with a fifth of children admitting they were reluctant to go to school because of it.

                          [Related: Why most parents get it wrong]

Among youngsters, a massive 45% felt websites and social networks didn't do enough to protect them from virtual violence.

As part of its work, the charity trains young BeatBullying Mentors to talk to those who are affected and its own figures chime with today's new study by Cybersmile, which also shows that 44% of teachers say they've had more than 10 incidents of cyber-bullying in their school in the past 12 months.
Scott Freeman, founder of the charity, said: "Developments in technology make it easier than ever for those people looking to do harm to access social media 24/7, meaning there is literally no respite from this kind of unwanted attention for victims.

"When those that we trust to look after our children are themselves victimised, it becomes apparent that not enough is being done on a national level to eradicate cyber-bullying."

He added: "This research demonstrates that cyber-bullying is a growing problem across the UK. We are finding that an increasing number of young people, parents and teachers are calling our helpline and accessing the website for support. Today’s findings demonstrate that more needs to be done to tackle this growing issue."

Anthony Smythe, Director of BeatBullying, added: "We are all too aware of how for many young people, online bullying results in anxiety, depression, self-harm and in some cases, suicide.

"We campaign to make cyber-bullying unacceptable. Our campaign for Ayden's Law is on behalf of all the young people who have taken their on lives because of bullying, their families, and any child being bullied today, both offline and online."

10 Tips to Tackle Cyber-bullying courtesy of BeatBullying

  • Don't post personal information online - like your address, your email address or mobile number. Keep personal information as general as possible.

  • Save and print out any bullying messages, posts, pictures or videos you receive or see.

  • Never respond or retaliate, as this can just make things worse.

  • Always report anything abusive you see online to the site concerned. Flag it, report it, or talk to someone about it.

  • Make a note of the dates and times of bullying messages, along with any details you have about the sender's ID and the URL. Keep a diary of everything that’s happening.

  • Never let anyone have access to your passwords. Check the privacy settings on accounts like Facebook and make sure you know how to keep your personal information private.

  • Think very carefully before posting photos of yourself online. Once your picture is online, anyone can download it and share it or even change it.

  • Don't pass on cyber-bullying videos or messages about other people.

  • Don't ignore it. If you see cyber-bullying going on, report it and offer your support.

  • If you're being bullied repeatedly, think about changing your user ID, nickname or profile to stop the bullies finding you.