Anti-Bullying Alliance and Childnet have launched a new cyber-bullying guidance for teachers and professionals that provides a unique insight into the internet use of children with special educational needs and / or disabilities (SEND).
The guidance comes as part of an innovative new programme of work, funded by the Department for Education (and in partnership with Achievement for All, Contact a Family, Council for Disabled Children and Mencap), to reduce the incidence and impact of bullying on children with special educational needs (SEN) and/or disabilities (SEND) in schools.
Launched on the 6th March 2014, the guidance was created in response to the findings of a series of qualitative focus groups undertaken with children and young people with disabilities, learning difficulties, mental health issues, emotional and /or behavioural difficulties. The findings revealed that many young people with SEND had experienced cyber-bullying, had not been taught how to use the internet or stay safe online, were using the internet to create an anonymous persona to mask their disability, or were actively avoiding the internet.
One of the primary concerns was education, with many young people reporting a total absence of support to learn about cyber-bullying or internet safety. This meant many were unaware of how to stay safe online, what to do about cyber-bullying, or how to understand when bullying behaviour was occurring. This need for education around cyber-bullying and online safety is reiterated by Childnet CEO, Will Gardner:
“Cyber-bullying, like all forms of bullying, can be very damaging and must be taken seriously. Learning how to use the internet safely and responsibly, and knowing who to turn to should things go wrong are key skills which we must teach all children. These findings illustrate the importance of ensuring that children and young people with SEND can enjoy the benefits of technology, by teaching and supporting them and those who work to help them; schools, parents and carers. We must look at both preventing cyber-bullying and responding to it when it does occur. We hope this guidance will be a step towards achieving this, and will provide a useful tool towards enabling all children to get the most out of what technology has to offer."
The guidance, which contains research, advice and lesson plans, can be downloaded for free from http://www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/media/7441/cyberbullying-and-send-module-final.pdf
For more information about the Anti-Bullying Alliance SEN & Disability Programme please contact the National Children’s Bureau’s media office on 0207 843 6045 / 47 or email [email protected].