A report issued by the Department for Education (DfE) in June 2018 has found that in 2015 35% of girls and 26% of boys reported bullying, with cyberbullying, name-calling and bullying linked to ‘social exclusion’ affecting twice as many girls as boys.
Teachers are frequently citing bullying as a growing problem within schools. According to an article published by Times Educational Supplement (TES) 53% of secondary teachers and 25% of primary teachers said they know of children who had been too scared to attend school due to bullying. According to a survey conducted by TES and This Morning one of the major difficulties in tackling bullying was a growing culture of mocking others being deemed common entertainment and parents may not take it seriously and intervene.
The findings of the DfE’s Report are consistent with the idea that bullying and lower attainment levels at GCSE level are interrelated. Similarly bullied children were twice as likely to truant as their non-bullied peers.
The DfE’s Report also found that 58% of reported cyberbullying took place outside of school.
The rise in the use and access of social media by young people, by way of smart phones and personal tablets and iPads, has led to an increasing number of children interacting more frequently via social media without parental supervision. Yet the increase in cyberbullying, the majority of which takes place away from school, means that it is outside of the control of schools and teachers. It is therefore an issue that parents need to be alive to.
More needs to be done to raise awareness amongst parents and children of what cyberbullying is, to ensure that children report cyberbullying to their parents but also to ensure parents take adequate steps to prevent their children from being the child who is doing the cyberbullying. Children over 10 can be prosecuted for harassment and it may also be possible for them to be sued, personally, for defamation and other tortious acts. Parents who are seeking to protect a child from cyberbullying may feel they have no option but to consider legal action. This should always be a last resort, and instead more needs to be done to ensure cyberbullying does not pervade family lives.
The government has published helpful guidance on cyberbullying for parents and carers, which includes a list of the potential signs of cyberbullying