It is a sad fact that bullying is a significant issue for children and young people – not only face to face but, perhaps more frequently these days, online.
This week is Anti-Bullying Week and the Anti-Bullying Alliance has released figures which show that one in three schoolchildren experience bullying each year, with, on average, one child in every class experiencing it on a weekly basis. All schools do their best to tackle bullying at its source and before it escalates, but I am aware some incidents are so distressing to those who have been targeted that they have to leave their school and find new friendship groups elsewhere.
Although face to face bullying, where physical violence or the drip-drip of snide comments and verbal abuse is something of which most of us are aware, young people today face more sinister bullying in the form of online comments and unpleasant posts on social media too. I was fortunate to be invited to see how primary school children are being taught awareness and resilience in their online dealings when Parentzone and Google brought their ‘Be An Internet Legend’ roadshow to Ongar Primary School recently.
I joined an assembly where children aged 9, 10 and 11 were being advised, in a loud and interactive way, how to avoid “over-sharing” information online, accepting friend requests from strangers, or posting videos or comments which might be hurtful to others.
The assembly was backed up by a curriculum pack for teachers so the lessons could be drummed home in PHSE lessons to ensure our children learn the skills they need to explore the opportunities of the internet more safely. It is so important that we equip children in Ongar with digital skills and it was great to see pupils at Ongar Primary School learning to act responsibly online in a positive and fun way.