The UK has become the first country in the world to launch a national, youth-led, code of conduct for the internet.
The Duke of Cambridge launched the code called ‘Stop, Speak, Support’ today [Thursday 15 November], with the aim of reaching every 11-16 year old in Britain, to empower them to stop cyberbullying, by speaking out and seeking support.
Social media firms, including Facebook and Snapchat have also announced they will be adapting their platforms to provide direct access to support when bullying strikes, as part of the campaign created by the Royal Foundation’s Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive and taskforce charity partner, said: “We know it can be very difficult for young people being bullied online or in person to tell someone what’s happening to them. Many are simply too scared to speak out or they believe somehow that it’s their fault.
“By helping to create the ‘Stop, Speak, Support’ campaign we are empowering young people to support their friends who are being bullied online.”
After more than 18 months of work, the Royal Foundation’s Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying has put together a plan they hope will to put the UK on the path to become the global leader in supporting young people online.
“‘Stop, Speak, Support’ provides simple steps for children and teenagers who witness cyberbullying to follow, with an emphasis on encouraging their peers to speak out and seek help from either a trusted adult or Childline, because bullying doesn’t go away on its own,” Wanless added.
Taskforce members are also building a universal strategy for information, to ensure all online resources for support and help – whether aimed at young people or parents –are high quality and reliable.
Facebook and Snapchat have also worked with the NSPCC to create new support functions that will be trialled among groups of young people. If successful, the Duke hopes it can become a global blueprint.
Chaired by tech entrepreneur Brent Hoberman CBE, the Taskforce members include: The Anti-Bullying Alliance; Apple; BT; The Diana Award; EE; Facebook; Google; Internet Matters; NSPCC; O2; Sky; Snapchat; Supercell; TalkTalk; Twitter; Vodafone and Virgin Media; as well as parents and a panel of young people.
However this is just the beginning of the journey to make the internet a safer space for children and young people.
Baroness Dido Harding, former CEO of Talk Talk and independent advisor to the Taskforce said: “The emotional support pilot and national campaign are significant steps forward but we are a long way from delivering what children themselves are asking for so that the design and functionality of social media platforms meets their safety needs.
“Whilst celebrating the steps forward, we should see this as a step in the right direction rather than the end of the journey.”
The Stop, Speak Support Code
The young people on the Taskforce said they had rules and guides for every part of their life – but not online. This is the ‘green cross code’ for the web
Action 1: Take time out before getting involved, and don’t share or like negative
Action 2: Try and get an overview of what’s really going on.
Action 3: Check the community guidelines for the site you’re on.
Action 1: Ask an adult or friend that you can trust for advice.
Action 2: Use the report button for the social media it’s happening on.
Action 3: Speak to one of the charities set up to help with situations like this, such as Childline.
Action 1: Give the person being bullied a supportive message to let them know they’re not alone.
Action 2: Encourage the person being bullied to talk to someone they can trust.
Action 3: Give the person being bullied a positive distraction from the situation.
Advice For Parents
Carolyn Bunting, general manager of taskforce partner Internet Matters offered some advice for parents worried about cyberbullying.
“Children are born into a digital world; they are learning, communicating and growing up online,” she said.
“But the online world can pose certain risks, such as cyberbullying.
“Parents need to ensure they’ve had early conversations with their children about the importance of staying safe online and help build their digital resilience.”
● Talk About It: If your child is using social media or communicating online, don’t wait until they experience cyberbullying to talk to them.
● Beware What They Share: Discuss with your child what they should be sharing online and how it could invite bullies.
● Learn about it: Find out about the apps, social networks and online games they are using and what they are able to share through them.
● Take Control: Set safety filters on their devices and ensure privacy and settings are at the highest level on social media.
● Take It Seriously: Check in with your child regularly and look out for signs of cyberbullying. Remember that children can be targeted by cyberbullies at anytime and online bullies can be anonymous.
● Block and Report: Teach your child what to do if they want to prevent or report abusive messages, including keeping the evidence with screengrabs.
Visit internetmatters.org for further advice on how to keep your child safe online.