Cyber-bullying now just a part of life, most children believe

Four in 10 parents said they are too ignorant to deal with the problem of online abuse

Cyber-bullying has become so commonplace that more than half of children in Britain accept that it is part of everyday life, a new study says today.

In a further sign of the growing problem surrounding online abuse among young people, a poll carried out by the Anti-Bullying Alliance found that 55 per cent of children were resigned to the fact that cyber-bullying was normal practice.

Nearly 70 per cent of children said they would turn to their parents if they were bullied online – but four in 10 parents are too ignorant to deal with the problem and are unable to take steps such as setting up filters on mobile phones and computers to protect their kids.

Luke Roberts, the national co-ordinator of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, said: “Our research shows that cyber-bullying is an everyday problem for today’s children, but teachers and parents are not always able to provide the advice and support young people need.”

Keith Towler, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, said last week that new laws should be brought in to tackle cyber-bullying, underlining the increasing pressure the Government is coming under to introduce specific legislation to address the issue, which continues to claim the lives of children around the world.

In the latest death linked to online abuse, Rebecca Sedwick, a 12-year-old girl in Florida, committed suicide last month after being subjected to a barrage of hateful messages. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has said perpetrators of abuse on social-networking sites are not above the law and has urged people to boycott websites that fail to tackle the problem – an approach that is too simplistic, campaigners say.

The study polled 2,200 parents, children and teachers across England ahead of anti-bullying week next month. More than two-thirds of teachers and 40 per cent of young people said cyber-bullying and how to deal with it should be taught as part of the national curriculum in schools. More than four in 10 teachers didn’t know how to respond to the problem and said that nothing was taught in their schools on the issue, the study found.

Mr Roberts told The Independent that education should be aimed at building resilience to the problem among young people and teaching them that past misdemeanours have a greater chance of being made public in a digital age.

“People can use your information in ways that you might not necessarily understand when you did it at the time,” Mr Roberts said. “The solution is better education, not only in the classroom but better training for teachers and support for parents.”

In one of the highest-profile cases this year, 14-year-old Hannah Smith killed herself in August after being abused on the Latvia-based site Ask.fm, which allows users to send questions anonymously to each other.

Mr Roberts said: “Where you have people being anonymous, we are much more capable of being cruel.”

Case study: 'I felt like I was an outcast'

Khushal Shah, 17, from London. Head of cyber-engagement  at the Anti-Bullying Alliance

I have been a victim of cyber-bullying through Facebook. A fake account was made using my name and personal details. Photoshopped pictures of me and rude and abusive comments were posted. Almost my whole year group had added me as a friend. I was shocked and confused. I felt people would be constantly judging me and that I was an outcast.

I talked to my friends and realised it was a fake account with really horrible, personal and abusive comments. I did not have the confidence or courage to tell my parents. Instead a friend and I went to a trusted teacher. They were shocked – it was the first time they had heard about such a thing.

After talking with my teacher, senior members of staff were involved and after several conversations with Facebook, the account was taken down. It was only after the support of friends, teachers and my parents, that I become confident again, regained my self-esteem and could face walking past people in the corridors.

My experience has led me to realise what bullying is.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future