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Cyberbullying – What Is It, What’s Its Impact and How Can DSLs Spot It at an Earlier Stage?

3 minute read
By Smoothwall

As always, Smoothwall is proud to be supporting Anti-Bullying Week and doing whatever we can to support those on the front line of student safety and wellbeing.

This year’s theme is ‘Make A Noise About Bullying’. As leaders in digital safeguarding technology for education, we want to draw attention to cyberbullying and help school DSLs understand the scale of the problem, its impact and provide useful resources that can help DSLs to prevent it. 

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying can take many different forms. It may involve activities such as; a child being excluded from online friendship groups, sending and receiving abusive messages, content being shared of an individual with malicious intent or setting up an online group about an individual to cause harm or embarrassment.

The internet provides an accessible space where bullies can abuse their victims. Ofcom’s  study into children’s media and online habits shows that four in ten children aged 8-17 (39%) have experienced bullying, either on or offline. Among these children, the bullying was more likely to happen on a device (84%) than face-to-face (61%). 

Childnet reports that cyberbullying can affect all members of the school community. However, some members of the community are disproportionately affected. Girls, learners with special education needs and disabilities, and learners identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender are disproportionately affected by cyberbullying. Cyberbullying may also relate to race, ethnicity or national origin, religion and faith. 

What impact can cyberbullying have on a child or young person?

For the child on the receiving end of cyberbullying the impacts can be far-reaching. It can result in feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety and isolation, or even suicidal thoughts. Some children who are victims of cyberbullying may keep it hidden, fearing repercussions if they voice their concerns or they don’t always know who to talk to. Research suggests it’s more common for girls to share with someone if they are being bullied than boys. 

How can DSLs spot cyberbullying, and at an earlier stage?

Since cyberbullying, by its very nature, happens online, digital safeguarding technologies, such as monitoring can and do play an important role in helping schools spot potential violent or malicious words or actions before they can escalate. In 2022, Smoothwall Monitor solution found a child involved in a suspected serious bullying or cyberbullying incident every 10 minutes.

To find out more about how digital monitoring can help, please reach out to us as enquiries@smoothwall.comWe’re here to help.

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To find out more about how digital monitoring can help, please reach out to us.
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There are also lots of advisory resources for DSLs on how to manage cyberbullying as well as resources to share with staff, parents and students. 

Useful resources for DSLs:

  • Childnet: Has lots of useful guidance for schools on cyberbullying prevention, how to respond to it and how school staff can be supported in managing cyberbullying. 
  • InternetMatters.Org: Has useful resources specifically related to cyberbullying to help school staff and parents drive awareness amongst young people, and help prevent cyberbullying.
  • Childline: If a child or young person needs confidential help relating to bullying you can direct them to Childline. Calls to 0800 1111 are free.
  • EACH:  A free and confidential, homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying reporting service for children and young people up to 18 years of age.

For more information on how you can get involved in Anti-Bullying Week or to make a donation to the Anti-Bullying Alliance, please click here.

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