Childnet International announced today the launch of important new guidance for schools to help them tackle the problems of cyberbullying. Part of the overall anti-bullying guidance called "Safe to Learn: Embedding Anti-bullying Work in Schools".
The advice has been drawn up by Childnet for the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and is the culmination of over 5 months work, including consultation with members of a special Cyberbullying Task Force  and others.
The guidance helps schools recognise what cyberbullying is, how it is different from other forms of bullying and outlines the steps schools need to take to help prevent cyberbullying and to respond to incidents appropriately. It represents a positive ‘Whole-School Community’ approach to addressing social problems online – encouraging children, young people and schools to model the constructive use of technology, and to create and engage in safe communities.
Will Gardner, Childnet’s Deputy CEO, who headed up the drafting of this guidance says,
"Unfortunately cyberbullying is a feature of many young people’s lives and we know from our work in schools that both teachers and parents are having to deal with the very real hurt of children being harassed by their peers on their mobiles and online."
He went on,
“We hope this guidance will help schools both in outlining steps that can be taken to help prevent cyberbullying and also practical steps they can take when responding to reports of such incidents.”
To coincide with the launch of the guidance, Childnet is undertaking a range of dissemination activities and the production of resources to help communicate the guidance and give teachers and schools resources which they can use to cover the issue of cyberbullying in the classroom. The first of these is a special film called 'Let's Fight it Together'  which schools can use with students to help sensitise them to the issues and recognise the pain and hurt which can be caused through cyberbullying - as well as how they can play an active part in fighting it.
Childnet has also worked with the DCSF on running two National Cyberbullying Conferences the first of which is taking place at the O2 arena in London on the Tuesday 25th September . Stephen Carrick-Davies, Childnet CEO says,
"The key message coming from this guidance is that we all share a responsibility to act. Bringing a range of different practitioners together to review the guidance and ensure that schools are equipped to respond to the issue is crucial. For guidance to be effective it needs to be owned, and acted upon."
Appropriately Childnet’s cyberbullying conference will use the latest interactive technology to enhance discussion and capture key points, enabling delegates to share experiences and ideas and support each other in ensuring that cyberbullying has no place in schools.
Childnet is also launching a unique website called Digizen  which will support and showcase young people’s positive social engagement and participation online. The site includes a useful overview of the full Cyberbullying guidance, the film, and hosts a new competition for young people encouraging them to create their own responses to cyberbullying.
The site will also host a research project which aims to provide better support information, advice and resources for teachers and parents around young people’s use of Social Networking Services (SNS) such as Facebook, MySpace and YouTube.
Josie Fraser, Childnet's Educational Technologist says,
"As we enter our second decade of e-Safety education, it is right for all of us to review the advice we give to children and move to campaigns that recognise the active and participatory role children and young people play online, and to use those technologies to engage with them.”
She went on,
“The reality is that children are encountering peer cyberbullying and anti-social behaviour online and this forms one of their biggest concerns in relation to new technology. More than ever we need to support teachers and parents in negotiating and understanding the online world that our children are growing up in. We need to ensure everyone is mindful of the potential consequences of their online actions and support children in acting safely and responsibly towards everyone they connect with in their online worlds. Digizen will provide practical help with that."
A special Digizen Widget is being designed as a fun and easy way for young people to spread the word about their commitment to positive and responsible internet activity.
Publishing the guidance on the Childnet Digizen website, reviewing the positive benefits of technology, and encouraging students to produce their own positive responses to cyberbullying, reflects Childnet’s ethos of providing practical advice and addressing the negative aspects of children’s use of technology, whilst at the same time promoting the benefits and engaging creatively with both young people, parents  and teachers. Stephen Carrick-Davies says,
"We all have a shared responsibility to ensure that children understand how to use the amazing and exciting new technologies responsibly online and we believe this guidance for schools and new Digizen resources will help make a positive contribution to this debate and help children understand the responsibility of being good online citizens."
For more information on Childnet see www.childnet.com
Full Cyberbullying Guidance Document – www.teachernet.gov.uk/publications and www.digizen.org
For interviews contact:
– 0796 056 5994;
– 0771 245 1859;
– 0783 797 1954
The DCSF Cyberbullying Task Force included representations from industry, child welfare, professional associations, Parent Governor networks, Academia and law enforcement – for full list of members see full guidance document.
The film will be available from the Childnet Digizen www.digizen.org
See livegroup.co.uk/childnet for details of this conference.
See www.digizen.org. ‘Digizen’ is a composite of the words digital and citizen. In keeping with both Childnet International’s ethos and with the approach outlined in the UK’s Cyberbullying Advice and Guidance for Schools Digizen’s first research programme aims to support the modeling of good practice by young people online – the use of Social Networking Services (SNS) and tools to develop and demonstrate voice, engagement and positive change.
700,000 copies of Childnet’s ‘Know IT ALL for Parents’ CD ROM resource for schools which Childnet produced for the DCSF last year have already been distributed in the first 5 months since its release.