This e-Safety bulletin looks at cyber-bullying and… this might sound strange, supporting children who bully others.
If you are new to St Michael’s, I would like to introduce you to the Dorset Police Safe Schools & Communities Team (SSCT) who came into school on Thursday to talk to the school about bullying. SSCT define bullying as the repeated and intentional hurting of one person to another. Bullying has four main forms: physical, verbal, emotional and online.
Did you know that nearly 1 in 3 teenagers in Britain experience online bullying at some point? To help pupils understand what is and is not bullying, the SSCT exemplified what sort of things are not acceptable online and discussed what the potential consequences of such performing such actions could be.
In case you aren’t aware, the SSCT produce a quarterly online safety newsletter for parents which covers lots of useful up-to-date, pertinent information relating to young people. This is a ‘for parents’ newsletter, so I wouldn’t recommend it for direct dissemination to children as it doesn’t pull any punches in highlighting what some of the worst outcomes have been as a result of children’s use of technology. In this post, I summarise a couple of the key messages from the latest SSCT newsletter and put them into context against the latest statistics about online bullying.
Bullying and Bullies
Until recently most guidance has been focused on what to do to support a child who is the victim of bullying. However, more recent research indicates the importance of instigating support for a child who has been bullying others.
The traditional view of bullying as a learnt behaviour
Young people can learn to behave in a discriminatory way towards others who are different to them, for example those with a disability, different colour skin, gender, religion or nationality. If family or friends express discriminatory views, a young person can either believe this is the appropriate way to behave or may feel obliged to behave in this way to fit in.
In the online world, it can be that a young person simply does not understand the impact that their behaviour is having on another person. In face to face interactions, we rely heavily on voice tone, facial expressions and body language to understand communication; online, much of this can be missing.
Much online bullying happens alongside other forms of bullying such as face to face assaults or verbal abuse. However, where bullying happens online, there are some additional issues. Firstly, online bullying can happen 24/7, so giving young people a break from their devices, especially overnight can help both victims and those bullying to break the cycle. Secondly, the online space can make bullying easier because sharing or posting something unpleasant can happen extremely quickly with just one tap or click, and you are buffered from the emotional response of the victim; in addition, the internet can mask the identity of the perpetrator of the behaviour. Lastly, the reach of the internet can mean that as well as comments being shared quickly, they can be shared far more widely than was possible in the past.
England’s schools ‘worst for cyber-bullying’
An international study says, headteachers in England are more likely to face problems with pupils bullying online and misusing social media than in any other developed country. The report from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) reported the experiences of more than 250,000 teachers in 48 industrialised countries and regions.
It showed particular problems with cyber-bullying in England’s schools. The survey indicated an increase in bullying, driven by online bullying and harassment and problems caused by social media.
Of the heads in England surveyed:
· 14% of schools faced problems each week caused by “hurtful” material posted about pupils, compared with an international average of 2%, with the United States having the next highest proportion – 10%
· 27% of schools faced problems each week caused by pupils receiving “unwanted contact” online – in the form of cyber-bullying, compared with an international average of 3%, with Australia having the next highest proportion – 16%
When you see these sorts of statistics, you have to wonder if our culture is feeding an attitude that leads to bullying?
The view of the bully as the victim
Bullying behaviour can be a coping strategy for a stressful or traumatic situation, including being bullied by someone else, family splits or bereavement. Some people will seek to humiliate someone else to feel powerful because they lack that feeling of power and control over elements of their own lives. Those that have been bullied are twice as likely to bully others, and if the underlying issues are not resolved, a negative pattern of behaviour can follow.
The latest research indicates massively high proportions of bullies being the victim of previous bullying incidents.
Anti-bullying week at St Mike’s
At St Michael’s we try to exemplify a culture of respect towards the diversity of people around us and to explore, understand and value that diversity rather than propagating any biases or ill feelings towards any groups of people.
Our key messages from anti-bullying week has been to help pupils understand their own and others’ roles if they witness bullying of any sort, to understand how they can help deter bullying and the importance of reporting it to an adult.
You can access the SSCT newsletters and sign up to them here.
The Information and text above has been adapted from the latest SSCT newsletter along with some statistics from the BBC.