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Internet: Bullying

Department for Education written question – answered on 22nd December 2015.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance her Department has issued to (a) schools and (b) further education colleges on educating young people about cyber bullying and social media abuse.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what funds her Department makes available to educational establishments to tackle cyber bullying and social media abuse by young people.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she has taken to tackle (a) cyberbullying, (b) sexting and (c) other forms of peer-to-peer social media abuse by young people.

Photo of Edward Timpson Edward Timpson Minister of State (Education)

Schools, internet service providers, and parents all have a role to play in keeping children and young people safe online. The government is aware of the concerns that parents may have about content and inappropriate or upsetting behaviour on social media

We have produced advice for parents on how to prevent their child from being cyberbullied, spot signs that they are being targeted and what to do if they are. The Government Equalities Office is funding the UK Safer Internet Centre to produce advice for schools on how to keep children safe online. This is scheduled for publication next spring. The advice for parents can be found online at GOV.UK:

We are providing £1.3 million this financial year (2015-16) to anti-bullying charities to tackle all forms of bullying including cyberbullying on top of the £4m provided over the period 2013-15. We are also providing £2 million this financial year (2015-16) to organisations to specifically tackle homophobic bullying.

Every school is required by law to have a behaviour policy with measures in place to prevent all forms of bullying including cyber-bullying. In July 2015, the Department published the “Keeping Children Safe in Education” guidance for schools and colleges and this can be found online at GOV.UK:

All schools and colleges must have regard to this statutory guidance when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The guidance sets out that governing bodies and proprietors should consider how children may be taught about safeguarding, including online, through teaching and learning opportunities, as part of providing a broad and balanced curriculum. This may include covering relevant issues through personal, social health and economic education (PSHE), and/or through sex and relationship education (SRE) in maintained schools and colleges.

From September 2014, e-safety has been taught at all four key stages of the curriculum in England. It covers responsible, respectful, and secure use of technology, as well as ensuring that pupils are taught age-appropriate ways of reporting any concerns they may have about what they see or encounter online. Children and young people are being taught about the different and escalating risks they may encounter as they get older (initially relating to online content, then to the conduct of and contact with others, which can include sexting).

Schools can help to contain cyber-bullying and social media abuse and sexting during the school day by banning or limiting the use of mobiles and other electronic devices. In addition search powers included in the Education Act 2011 have given teachers the power to search for, and if necessary delete, inappropriate images (or files) on electronic devices, including mobile phones.

The effectiveness of schools and FE colleges in managing behaviour and tackling bullying is assessed as part of Ofsted inspections. In reaching a judgement on personal development, behaviour and welfare, inspectors will evaluate the extent to which provision supports pupils and students in understanding how to keep themselves safe from relevant risks such as abuse, sexual exploitation and extremism, including when using the internet and social media’

The Longitudinal Study of Young Peoplein England(LSYPE) published by my Department in November 2015 compared bullying among two cohorts of 14 year olds (year 10 students)from 2004 and 2014. This shows that, while there is clearly much more to do, thanks to the efforts of teachers and charities30,000fewer peoplein year 10said they had been bullied in the lasttwelve months. This represents a drop from41 per cent in2004to36 per cent in2014.

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