As part of Children’s Mental Health Week (5 Feb - 9 Feb) and Safer Internet Day (6 Feb), he went to the school to discuss the effects of bullying on children and what can be done to combat it.
Pupils from Burlington Danes Academy, which hosts 1,000 pupils aged 11-18, were joined by by a number of pupils from Kensington Aldridge Academy (KAA), which had to close in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire.
For parents concerned about cyberbullying and how it impacts their kids, we’ve rounded up the following advice and guidance:
1. Know the signs your child is being cyberbullied.
Therefore, it is important to ensure you are equipped to recognise the signs your child may being bullied online.
Some of these include when your child is being secretive with their device, if they are constantly checking their device, if they are reluctant to switch their light off at night and if they are reluctant to go to school.
“It’s common for online bullying to be perpetrated by school peers or a continuation of what’s going on at school. If they don’t want to go to school it is an alarm bell,” said Lauren Seager-Smith, CEO of anti-bullying charity Kidscape.
2. Set boundaries about how children access online apps.
Children may seem more adept at navigating apps than their parents, however they still need guidance around how to use them safely. Instagram was found to be the most commonly used network for online bullying, according to the Annual Bullying Survey 2017, published by the anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label.
“Kids aren’t given training on what is appropriate so we’re finding they often learn the hard way what is right and wrong on social media,” said Liam Hackett, who runs Ditch The Label.
“So the role parents play is strong. Aside from having open communication and modelling through their use of social media, it is reasonable to be checking on what the child is posting and be proactive talking to them about privacy.”
Shah added that privacy is an important issue to bring up with your child.
“It is important for parents to encourage their child to set their page to private and only add followers that they are friends with,” she explained.
“They also have the option to turn commenting off on images so it limits malicious comments. Instagram take all of these violations very seriously.”
3. Act immediately if you are worried your child is being cyberbullied.
Cyberbullying can have a very severe impact on children’s mental health. Ged Flynn, chief executive of PAPYRUS, the national charity for preventing young suicide, told HuffPost UK: “If anyone - family, friends, teachers – suspect a young person is being bullied they need to act immediately and not be afraid to ask the question. Feeling bullied is likely to have impacted a young person’s self-esteem and they most likely will not voluntarily admit it.”
4. Teach your child what to do if they are being cyberbullied.
Psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, an ambassador for Internet Matters, said parents should teach their children about how to report cyberbullying. She explained there are three steps you should tell them to take:
1. Ask them not to reply. Cyberbullies are looking for a reaction, so don’t feed their ego.
2. Keep the evidence. Sit down with your child and make a written record of what has happened. The more evidence you get, the easier you can resolve the situation
3. Block the bully. Social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram have a built-in tool to block anyone who is causing you grief online by sending nasty messages.
5. Encourage your child to speak to you or others.
It’s important for children to know if they are being bullied online, they have someone close to them who they can speak to. Keeping in their worries can be more damaging.
Ensure the conversations you have with your child about cyberbullying or bullying in general are started early on.
Chris Cloke, head of safeguarding in communities at NSPCC said: “Your child may be afraid to ask for help if they are being bullied so make sure they know they can always talk to you or another trusted adult such as a teacher if they are worried or upset.”