By Olivia Armstrong
SHOCK figures today revealed online bullying across the UK had soared by almost 90% in the last five years.
A new report from UK charity Childline reveals the number of children counselled about online bullying in 2015/16 was 4,541, an 88% increase from 2,410 in 2011/12.
The figures, released yesterday at the beginning of anti-bullying week, reveal that children as young as seven had contacted the charity to report harassment through malicious online messages. They also showed that a quarter of sessions involving children and young people featured counselling for mental health and wellbeing, including suicidal thoughts and depression.
In nearly a third (31%) of counselling sessions for online bullying, children and young people talked about a social networking site as the platform for bullying.
Matt Forde, national head of service for NSPCC Scotland, said: “Online bullying is one of the biggest child protections challenges of this generation.
Bullying, regardless of whether it occurs online or in person, can have a devastating impact on a young person, affecting their self-worth, leave them feeling isolated and potentially being a trigger for depression.”
Brian Donnelly, Director of Scottish Anti-bullying service Respect Me, stated that he believed bullying manifests itself in the variety of ways and the internet has become a popular way for children to bully others.
He said: “Our research indicates 92% of children and young people bullied online knew the person bullying them – so anonymity is not the reason for this.
Bullying is not simply physical bullying and cyberbullying. Bullying is behaviour that makes people feel less in control and less able to respond to what is happening to them. The most common behaviours are name calling hurtful comments and rumours – none of these are physical.
We must not focus on cyber bullying or online bullying as a different phenomenon – it is the same behaviour that takes place on a new social space. We must make sure all our anti-bullying work covers online and face-to-face bullying.”