21/09/2007

Government Launches Guidance To Tackle 'Cyber-Bullies'

The government has launched a campaign aimed at tackling the problem of cyber-bullying.

An online awareness campaign, called 'Laugh At It And You're A Part Of It' has been launched and will run on social networking sites, such as Bebo, MySpace and YouTube for six weeks.

A series of new measures, drawn up in consultation with anti-bullying experts, mobile phone companies and networking websites, will also be introduced.

These measures include guidance on how to remove offensive or malicious material removed from web sites and confiscate equipment such as mobile phones from children.

A third of 12-15-year-olds have suffered some form of online bullying, a government study has revealed.

Teaching unions have also said that their members have also increasingly become victims of cyber-bullying.

Schools Minister Ed Balls said: "Cyber bullying is a particularly insidious type of bullying as it can follow young people wherever they go and the anonymity that it seemingly affords to the perpetrator can make it even more stressful for the victim."

Dr Mary Bousted, from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: "Cyber bullying is pernicious, insidious and totally unacceptable and no-one should tolerate it. The unfortunate downside of IT is that it enables pupils and parents to bully other pupils, teachers and lecturers from afar and often anonymously by phone, email and the internet.

"In schools and colleges cyber bullying ruins the lives of children and teachers alike. Staff victims face public humiliation, have their reputation damaged and their professional pride and confidence destroyed.

"The number of calls from ATL members who have been bullied has significantly increased over the past year - with 17% reporting having suffered from cyber bullying.

"The government's guidance should help save pupils from future bullying, but we now need to see the same support for staff.

"All schools and colleges should have policies to protect their teachers and support staff from cyber bullying, and should make a commitment to fully support anyone who is a victim."

(KMcA)

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