Children from the age of five are in fact using shared school platforms, instant messaging, social gaming and even photo-sharing sites - all places we may consider to be generally 'safe'. However, in reality this is exactly where children may be most exposed to the risk of cyber-bullying, and we might not even know about it.
In my day, compared to today, it was a simpler form of bullying - not that I am condoning it in any way - but it was face to face, name calling, physical and mental hurts, you knew the name and the face of the bullies, you knew the familiar outlines as they came towards you so you could run in the opposite direction. Today not only do you have to contend with what I went through you also have to contend with the cyber bullying - the nameless and faceless who say the most disgusting things because they feel they have an anonymity and an autonomy to behave without repercussion.
For the last twenty two of my thirty one years on this planet, bullying has been on my mind. I've suffered it, in some circumstances I've done it, and now with two children I consider its practise. It's almost never far from the news and again it seems another British teenager has lost their life because of it.
I regularly receive Twitter comments ranging from the tame and jejune 'fag', 'fudge packer', 'cock sucker', 'spazzy' and 'ugly cunt' to the more personal and nasty 'you should have been kicked out of your mums womb', 'I'd slit your throat fag', 'You should get raped with a machete' and 'Hitler had the right idea. Put you faggot bastards in an oven at 230 degrees until crispy'.
Usually the month of August is referred to as the silly season. The political exploitation of 14-year-old schoolgirl Hannah Smith's suicide by both tabloid and broadsheet newspapers suggests we might have to rechristen it the sinister season. Even for a press like ours, with its many well-known moral lapses, the shroud-waving over Hannah's death marks a new low.
Recently the town I went to school in as a child has seen a Spotted page arise and within a few days the page itself has thousands of likes and is updated regularly. Like Foucault's metaphor of the Panopticon, the page acts as a high place looking down upon the people casting judgement hither and thither from the position of power that anonymity brings.