Kat Tremlett, a practitioner on the Professionals Online Safety Helpline (POSH), gives her advice for professionals who are concerned about cyberbullying this Anti-Bullying Week.
The POSH Helpline can help professionals working with children with any online safety issues, including - privacy, online reputation, gaming, grooming, cyberbullying, sexting, inappropriate behaviour on social media and so on.
This Anti-bullying week the Anti-Bulling Alliance (ABA) are calling on all members of the children’s workforce to celebrate the theme 'All Different, All Equal'. This year The Anti-Bullying Alliance are encouraging professionals to take individual and collective action to prevent bullying, creating safe environments for children where they can be themselves.
They are calling on organisations that work with young people to:
- Empower young people to celebrate what makes them, and others, unique
- Help young people understand the importance for every person to feeling valued and included in school, able to be themselves, without fear of bullying
- Encourage parents and carers to talk to their children about bullying, difference and equality
- Enable teachers and school support staff to celebrate difference and equality
What does this mean?
This blog highlights best practice strategies and resources to help organisations working with young people to take a more holistic approach to bullying prevention.
Focus on the behaviour
The term cyberbullying can lead to confusion when considering the best course of action to take post incident. Professionals should be confident in responding to online bullying incidences just as they would offline. After all it’s the behaviour that’s the problem, not the means by which it is delivered.
It’s everyone’s business
Safeguarding young people against bullying is everyone in a school’s responsibility.
In order to effectively combat bullying there has to be a culture of calling out this behaviour across the board. All staff must know what steps to take and where to go if they have concerns, as well as have the confidence to take a stand and not let any incident go, no matter how insignificant it may seem to them. .
Ultimately, bullies will find it much harder to operate in an environment where their actions are challenged and not tolerated.
Update your policies
The Education and Inspections Act 2006 requires all schools to have measures in place that encourage good behaviour and prevent all forms of bullying amongst pupils. These measures will be outlined most commonly in a schools’ behaviour, anti-bullying and acceptable use policies.
The Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014 outline requirements that the proprietor of an Academy or other independent school ensure that bullying at the school is prevented in so far as reasonably practicable, by the drawing up and implementation of an effective anti-bullying strategy.
Such policies and strategies should be reviewed, at the very least, annually but ideally termly and particularly after any bullying incident has taken place or been reported.
The policies should be easily accessible for parents and carers and it’s best practice to have policies which can also be easily interpreted by young people. SWGfL’s template policies can be a huge help here.
Know your legal requirements
As well as The Education and Inspections Act 2006 , schools also have a legal duty to comply with:
More information can also be found in the Department for Education’s Preventing and Tackling Bullying Guidance which was released earlier this year.
Know who to ask for help.
When physical bullying presents itself in school, the sanctioning and safeguarding routes to follow may seem straightforward, particularly if professionals are well versed in following these procedures.
However, when technology is involved, sometimes there is another layer of support needed. The Professionals Online Safety Helpline is open 10am-4pm Monday to Friday, and can help members of the children’s workforce with any online safety issues they or the young people they support may encounter.
As well as being on hand to help with online safety issues, they can also help to remove harmful content where it violates a platform’s community standards.
Other Useful resources
- Resources to get involved in Anti-bullying week from the Anti-Bulling Alliance (ABA)
- Online Safety Live; a completely free programme of events designed exclusively for professionals working with children and young people. Delivered across the whole of the UK by the South West Grid for Learning as part of their work as the UK Safer Internet Centre, these two hour briefings update members of the children’s workforce on the very latest in online safety including the latest issues, the biggest trends and the best resources: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/online-safety-live
- Cyberbullying resources: This is a collection of resources from across the UKSIC looking at how you as a teacher can Understand, prevent and respond to online bullying
- Social Media Checklists; developed by SWGfL and delivered as part of their work as the UK Safer Internet Centre, these checklists provide advice and guidance on how to set privacy settings and other account settings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/social-media-checklists
- ENABLE (European Network Against Bullying in Learning and Leisure Environments) is an EU-funded project, of which SWGfL are a part, combating bullying and contributes to the well-being of young people aged 11-14 through a unique blend of social and emotional development and peer education: https://swgfl.org.uk/products-services/online-safety/enable/
- SWGfL 360 Degree Safe; a free to use self-assessment tool intended to help schools review their online safety policy and practice: https://360safe.org.uk/
- SWGfL Digital Literacy Curriculum: Free materials designed to empower pupils and students to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in our digital world. Find the lessons that are just right for your classroom: https://swgfl.org.uk/products-services/online-safety/resources/digital-literacy/
- Cyberbullying Guidance; developed by Childnet and delivered as part of their work as the UK Safer Internet Centre, this guidance aims to help schools’ understand, prevent and respond to cyberbullying: http://www.childnet.com/resources/cyberbullying-guidance-for-schools
- Crossing the Line PSHE Toolkit; developed by Childnet and delivered as part of their work as the UK Safer Internet Centre, this is a practical online safety PSHE toolkit with films and lesson plans to explore online issues with pupils aged 11-14 years old: http://www.childnet.com/resources/pshetoolkit
- UK Safer Internet Centre Advice for Professionals: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre/teachers-and-school-staff
- Safer Internet Day (SID); Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre, SID 2018 will be celebrated globally on Tuesday 6th February 2018 with the slogan “Create, Connect and Share Respect: A better internet starts with you”. This year’s Education Packs will be released shortly providing schools with a whole host of resources and activities to help promote good digital citizenship to all ages: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/2018
- CEOP Think U Know have recently updated their website for professionals enabling visitors to search and view Thinkuknow resources by category and age range in their pursuit to deliver education and raise awareness of online child exploitation and abuse: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/professionals/