Playground bullying ‘migrating’ online

Playground bullying is now migrating online, respectme have warned. Picture: PA
Playground bullying is now migrating online, respectme have warned. Picture: PA
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PLAYGROUND bullying is “migrating” online as children spend more time using the internet and social media, it has been warned.

In a submission to the Scottish Parliament’s education committee, the national anti-bullying service respectme warns schools are struggling to cope with the abuse some pupils receive outside of the school gates.

It is one of a series of warnings given to MSPs ahead of a meeting at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, the Scottish Government announced research into cyberbullying, saying it could no longer be thought of separately from more traditional forms of abuse.

In his submission to the education committee, Brian Donnelly, director of respectme, said more and more bullying was being carried out via the internet.

“Cyberbullying is bullying – it is still about relationships that are not healthy or being managed or role modelled well.

“It is behaviour done by someone to someone else, it is the ‘where’ this is taking place that is new. The behaviour appears to be migrating, as children spend more time online, the behaviour they have always exhibited and experienced comes

with them.”

He said teachers had “struggled” to deal with online bullying because it usually occurred away from school.

“Schools have struggled at times to deal with bullying that happens online as they believe it happens ‘out of school’. (Our) take on this is that bullying happens to individuals, the impacts are felt by them and they take this with them wherever they go. If they tell their teacher something happened and they are worried, like any disclosure of this kind, teachers and schools must respond in a supportive way. Children will be telling a teacher for good reason; they believe they can help them.”

In its submission to the committee, NSPCC Scotland notes that cyberbullying is on the increase, and calls for it to be a “core component” of the curriculum.

“The public nature of cyberbullying can be extremely hard for young people to cope with,” it notes. “The internet provides a platform for others to find out what is happening, and also at times to participate and continue the abuse.

“The sense that the whole world is involved can greatly increase the pain and humiliation for the young person.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “As the minister for learning said earlier this week, all bullying is unacceptable. “We work closely with RespectMe and others to provide support to those working with children who are being bullied.

“RespectMe will soon undertake new research to help provide a clearer picture of how young people are experiencing bullying in 2014 and how online and other forms of bullying cross over. This will help us identify the most effective ways of tackling online bullying quickly and effectively and address the particular challenges it raises.”