Can we actually do anything to stop cyberbullying?
2 experts and 1 parent have answered
Next month will see schools and other children’s organisations across the UK celebrate the ninth annual National Anti-Bullying Week, with a particular focus in recent years on the dangers of cyberbullying. I will personally visit a number of schools during that week to deliver a similar message to children about stopping cyberbullying. Most countries already have a number of anti-bullying organisations, and their names alone give you a clue of their shared aims, including Beat Bullying in the UK, Stomp Out Bullying in the US, and Stop Cyberbullying in Canada.
But what if we can’t stop cyberbullying? What if the huge amount of resources currently focussed on eradicating cyberbullying are a waste?
This was a debate I had at a conference recently, and it’s a conversation we need to have on a national scale as soon as possible. Despite the work that many brilliant people have done over the last decade, reports of cyberbullying are on the rise, from 25% of children reported as victims in 2006 to 38% in 2011. Studies and statistics can be misleading however; one reason for such a pattern could simply be that more children are online than they were a decade ago, and at a younger age. But what is certain is that we haven’t stamped out cyberbullying, and we are nowhere near doing so.
The NSPCC in the UK has reported that bullying is the main reason children call Childline. I think the action we must take is to mitigate the harm that cyberbullying can cause, and provide the support and education to ensure children feel comfortable and confident in reporting bullying.
Some of the most sense I’ve heard on cyberbullying recently is from the US comedian Louis CK [slightly NSWF language], who argues that ‘kids are mean, and it’s because they’re trying it out’.
Perhaps our resources would be better channelled into excellent schemes like BeatBullying’s Cyber Mentors, increasing the ways children can report bullying, and applying existing legislation in the most serious cases. Cyberbullying at its most extreme is a crime, and like all crimes we need to focus on victim support and reducing reoffending.
Add a comment
There is not much we can do to stop cyber bullying. However we can provide our children with coping mechanisms and teach them responsible online behaviour.
Add a comment
In the short term no, but we can certainly educate both children and adults about the harm cyber bullying does, and provide some deterrents. I think of it like racism, look how the human race has improved over the last 100 years in regards to racism. Whilst racism unfortunately still continues and may always continue, education and consequences for practicing racism have led to a huge change in how racism is tolerated. I expect that bullying and cyber bullying will go the same way eventually . Cyber bullying is a relatively new phenomenon and too many people are not connecting cyber bullying with real life bullying they see it separate somehow. Cyber Bullys also benefit from being anonymous at times online, and from being virtual. There is safety for the cyber bully being behind a monitor. Education of our children about the harm and consequences of cyber bullying to themselves and their intended victim, will certainly go along way to improvements, but sadly won't irradiate it.