The devastating impact that cyberbullying can have on the mental health of our nation’s young people is both well documented and deeply concerning.
Whilst in the past, bullying instances may have been confined to school grounds, technological advancements mean it can infiltrate 24 hours a day, pervasive through messaging and social media and not always fully understood by parents and carers, despite their best efforts.
A cyberbullying inquiry, carried out by YoungMinds and The Children’s Society and published early last year, heard harrowing accounts from young people who described how bullying over digital devices felt ‘inescapable’ and in extreme cases had pushed them to the verge of suicide. Now, new research has suggested cyberbullies are hiding behind claims that online abuse is “banter.” Social network site Instagram and cyberbullying charity Cybersmile have launched a campaign to encourage young people to talk more openly about the subject. The former has also introduced several features designed to cut down on harmful and abusive posts and comments.
Just as The Yorkshire Post, the most trusted newspaper in Britain, takes seriously its onus to publish responsible and fact-checked content, it is incumbent on social media companies to play a vital role in preventing and tackling online bullying on their platforms.
That means providing timely and appropriate responses to reports of cyberbullying and working with parents and the Government to educate young people about responsible behaviour online. This latest campaign is a step in the right direction, but still too many children are suffering.