Bullying: Cyber and Racist Bullying

House of Lords written question – answered on 15th January 2014.

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Photo of Lord Ouseley Lord Ouseley Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the reported rise in cyber and racist bullying, particularly among young people; and what plans they have to address this issue.

Photo of Lord Nash Lord Nash The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The Department for Education does not collect data on the number of children who have been subject to racist or cyber-bullying specifically. Estimates from an evidence review carried out by the Childhood Wellbeing Centre (at the Institute of Education, University of Kent and Loughborough University) for the Department in 2011, found that between 8% and 34% of children and young people in the UK had been cyber-bullied.

A number of expert organisations, such as the Diana Award and NSPCC, have undertaken surveys to try to measure the problem of cyber-bullying. These surveys reveal a wide variation in the incidence of cyber-bullying.

The Department keeps abreast of research in these areas and is funding a series of questions about bullying and cyber-bullying in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 Crime Survey for England and Wales. This will give us a baseline estimate of prevalence and will help us to track trends over time.

The Government has made tackling all forms of bullying, including cyber-bullying and racist bullying, a top priority. All schools must have a behaviour policy with measures to prevent all forms of bullying amongst pupils. Under the current Ofsted framework school inspectors consider how well schools prevent bullying, harassment and discrimination.

In the Education Act 2011 we strengthened teachers’ powers to discipline pupils for poor behaviour, including bullying. They can now issue same day detentions, confiscate banned items and search for, and if necessary delete, inappropriate images on mobile phones. Many schools choose to limit mobile phone use during the school day.

We are also providing £4 million of funding over 2 years from spring 2013 to four organisations: Beatbullying, The Diana Award, Kidscape and the NCB to develop effective initiatives to prevent and tackle bullying. These organisations have in place separate evaluations, which will report on the effectiveness of their initiatives.

The Government has pressed for progress through the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and works to protect children online, including from the risk of cyber-bullying. UKCCIS brings together the most important internet organisations, such as Facebook and Microsoft, and is chaired by Government Ministers, including Edward Timpson, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families.

From September 2014 pupils in all four key stages will be taught about e-safety as part of the new curriculum. This will empower young people to tackle cyber-bullying through responsible, respectful and secure use of technology. The new curriculum offers other opportunities to address bullying; for example the new citizenship programme of study sets out a requirement for pupils to be taught about the diverse national, regional, religious and ethnic identities in the United Kingdom and the need for mutual respect and understanding.

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