The rise of social media is making it harder than ever for children to protect themselves from abuse with bullying no longer stopping at the school gates, according to a leading charity.
Almost 16,000 bullying-related counselling sessions were carried out at Childline centres around the country last year.
And Leeds-based supervisor Charlotte Thomas said it can be difficult for children to talk about the effects of bullying.
She said: “Many young people will try to keep their distress to themselves, but bullying in 2019 no longer stops at the school gates. With social media, it is harder for young people who are suffering bullying to protect themselves from abuse.
“Increased anxiety, sadness and social isolation are common effects of being bullied, while low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts and feelings can also be a factor, so we would encourage anyone who has experienced bullying in school or online to speak to a trusted adult – such as a parent, carer or teacher - and report any abuse as early as possible.”
The charity’s Speak Out Stay Safe assemblies see NSPCC volunteers visit primary schools around the country to host special assemblies to speak with children about all kinds of abuse, including bullying.
Ms Thomas said: “By helping young people recognise different kinds of abuse, and educating them on how to report it, we hope to empower them to stand up against it as early as possible and reduce the negative impact it can have.”
What is bullying?
While there are no official statistics on the prevalence of bullying in England, research suggests that at least two in five young people have experienced bullying in some form in the last year, including cyber-bullying.
According to Bullying UK, which was founded by Yorkshire journalist Liz Carnell and her son John, there is no legal definition of bullying.
But it is “usually defined as repeated behaviour which is intended to hurt someone either emotionally or physically, and is often aimed at certain people because of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation or any other aspect such as appearance or disability”.
Bullying can take many forms including physical assault, teasing, making threats, name calling and cyber bullying.
Where to go for support
Samaritans is available 24/7 every single day of the year to listen and offer support to anyone who is struggling to cope. People can contact Samaritans by phone, free of charge, on: 116123, via email: email@example.com, or visit samaritans.org to find details of their local branch.
Papyrus, the UK Charity for the prevention of young suicide, can be contacted on 0800 068 41 41 or 07786 209 697
Children concerned about bullying can contact Childline, 24 hours a day, on 0800 1111.
Adults concerned about the wellbeing of a young person can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000.