A new study for Anti-Bullying Week by not-for-profit organisation Internet Matters, has found that parents were significantly more likely to be concerned about children aged 13 and under compared to those 14 and above.
With smartphone use amongst children now increasingly common, cyberbullying ranks alongside online grooming and sexting in the hierarchy of risk for parents.
62% of parents were concerned about the prospect of cyberbullying – overshadowing the amount of anxiety caused by online grooming (56%) and sexting (59%).
Almost one in 10 (9%) parents said their child has been involved in a cyberbullying incident.
Yet despite widespread concern about the topic, 32% of parents questioned by Internet Matters admitted they had yet to talk to their children about it.
The research comes ahead of this year’s Anti-Bullying Week (14-18 November), with co-ordinated events in schools and communities across the country to encourage children, teachers and parents to take positive action against bullying.
The theme this year is ‘Power For Good’ – a message of empowerment for children and young people, parents and teachers to take collective action to stop bullying in all its forms.
Organisers the Anti-Bullying Alliance are set to announce the winners of the first ever Power for Good Award, with one recipient each from a primary and secondary school. Children and young people have been nominating teachers and school staff from across England who have gone the extra mile to provide pastoral care to students suffering from issues like bullying.
Lauren Seager-Smith, National Coordinator of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, said: “We were overwhelmed by how many entries we received, over 100 students or classes got in contact to tell us about an inspirational teacher. We want there to be an acknowledgment that bullying can happen anywhere, and for all school staff to be trained and supported to work with pupils and parents to tackle the issue.”
The Anti-Bullying Alliance is also running a social media campaign to display a ‘Twibbon’, as well as award digital rosettes to those who are playing an effective part in tackling bullying.
Vic Goddard, Headteacher of Passmores Academy in Harlow, Essex, said: “Parents need to be more aware of how bullying has changed due to technology. I remember my mum saying to me, when I’d been the victim of some bullying, ‘come home because you are always safe here’. Sadly that is no longer true.
“Kids spend less than twenty per cent of their childhood in school, so home is where they need most protection. We run evenings where we give advice to parents about how to do this, but often they’re not very well attended.
“So it’s frustrating when a parent of an eleven-year-old tells us they have no idea what social media their child is using, or who they’re interacting with in their bedroom on their smartphone. Schools and parents must work together. “
Carolyn Bunting, General Manager of Internet Matters, said: “Child safety online is one of the top concerns for parents, yet our research shows a third of parents admit they’ve never had a family discussion about cyberbullying.
“This is understandable. Children often don’t want to talk about it and can end up suffering in silence. Educating ourselves and our families will help us all embrace the positive aspects of the internet while making children less vulnerable.”