The ever-expanding presence of social media means that young people are now more at risk of online bullying.
Many of us document everything we do to our online audiences. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep, whether it’s Instagramming what we had for breakfast, or tweeting about delayed trains. But for a generation that has never known anything different the question is how do we educate and enforce the boundaries that will protect them from the harmful grip of cyber bullies?
Schools are working hard to tackle bullying head on, hosting events and workshops dedicated to eliminating bullying, often built around important awareness campaigns like Anti-Bullying Week and Internet Safety Day, so children and young people have the opportunity to learn about the wider impact that bullying can have on their peers.
It’s important we all know the signs of bullying. Observance is key here and fortunately the Welsh Government has a number of helpful resources which clearly lay out the many tell-tale signs that highlight whether someone’s being bullied. These signs can include individuals being visibly withdrawn and quiet and potentially expressing anxiety at the prospect of going to school or college. Other signs include sudden weight loss, difficulty sleeping and unexplainable injuries.
Why is it so important to spot the signs early on? Aside from the obvious fact that no child should experience bullying of any nature, it has also been proven that children who are bullied are more likely to experience anxiety and depression as well as the detrimental effect on their studies and personal achievements. On the other side of the argument, children that demonstrate bullying tendencies could be more likely to engage in violent activities when they get older or demonstrate violence at a later point in life. So, addressing the problem at an early age, for all affected, is vital to ensuring the best care for children and young people.
Teachers and learning support staff have the hard task of governing behaviour that takes place within the school’s walls. But creating an honest, open environment will enable those affected to come forward and share their experiences and help address the problem at hand. While at home parents have the equally daunting task of ensuring their children are practising safe social media practice and sharing information on the type of content and material they are engaging with.
While bullying might be a reality for children and young people across Wales every day, awareness weeks like Anti-Bullying week are vital re-focusing attention, aligning our objectives and for making sure bullying becomes everyone’s business, not just those who are directly affected by it.
The more people that know how to spot the tell-signs of a child being bullied the more vulnerable young people will get the support they need early on and reduce the risk of any long-lasting damaging impacts.”
For more information on identifying the signs of bullying and for support services, visit: http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/schoolshome/wellbeing/antibullying/