Many years ago, when I was still at school, there were no such thing as mobile phones or even the internet. If someone wanted to talk to me outside of school hours they’d have to call my home phone and go through my mum or dad first. Obviously, I’d have liked there to be a different way, but I’m sure this suited my parents very much as they were able to keep a close eye on who I was associating with.
As a mum of two school-age kids I have more than my fair share of worries – mostly about the people that they meet, both in the real world and online. My daughter is still at primary school and doesn’t have a phone yet, but my son is at secondary school and spends a lot of time online.
It’s impossible to monitor everything they do, so it’s important that they have the tools they need to tackle the issues that they may face now and in the future. One of these issues is something that’s become very prominent in the news of late – cyber bullying.
While we may think our kids have lots of friends because they’re always on their phones, there can be something much more worrying going on. What can start as a silly comment on Facebook can quickly spiral out of control, so it’s vital that they’re educated to spot what’s going on and know what to do about it. I know people whose children have been greatly affected by cyberbullying, which makes me even more determined not to let it happen to mine.
Stop, Speak, Support
The Stop Speak Support campaign was launched by The Duke of Cambridge and The Royal Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying. It’s a great campaign, with simple steps to follow that I first heard about last year from one of the school mums whose child had been bullied.
EE and the organisation Internet Matters are both part of the taskforce and work together to share the campaign’s message and steps with families.
The Stop Speak Support campaign focuses on three practical steps that children can do if they or someone they know is being cyberbullied, as shown in this fantastic video:
The steps were created by working with a panel of young people through focus groups and workshops, so I know that they will be understood and an easy way for me to teach my kids what to do:
Don’t share or like negative comments, and don’t carry on conversations that turn sour or make fun of others (or yourself). If things don’t seem right, it’s okay to just stop.
There’s no need to be worried about making things worse, if you’re feeling uncomfortable you need to talk to someone about it. This could be a parent, a teacher, someone else you trust or even a charity like Childline. You can also report content or behaviour to the site or platform you’re on.
If someone you know is being bullied, send a supportive message to let them know they’re not alone, and encourage them to speak to an adult about it.
Anti-Bullying Week – all parents should get involved!
Anti-Bullying Week is something that happens every year to help highlight the problems that many young people go through, and how to prevent them.
This year the week is running from Monday 12th to Friday 16th November 2018, and there is going to be the first Stop, Speak, Support day on Thursday 15th November. They’re asking everyone to help support the day by sharing the short film above and pledging to use the three steps when online to help tackle cyberbullying. I know I will be. I urge all parents to get involved - I’ll be telling my friends and will talk to my children’s school about it too.
EE are partners of Internet Matters and they work together to provide families with resources to help keep children safe online. There’s a great section on the Internet Matters website that explains more about cyberbullying and what you can do to stop it, just visit the Internet Matters site and don’t forget to let your friends and family know all about it.