Online Safety Is the Child Protection Challenge of 21st Century
This is according to Peter Wanless, Head of the NSPCC and I have to agree with him. The internet provides unrivalled opportunities for young people to communicate and unique ways to learn but it can be a dangerous place for vulnerable teenagers and children.
In 2013 Childline registered an 87% rise in calls about cyberbullying amongst 12-15 year olds.
The ability to be contacted at all times is new. Children are communicating all the time and ‘instantly’, in ways us adults never could as children and so it’s no surprise that we are having trouble keeping up.
Sue Minto, Head of Childline, comments “ The cloak of anonymity can lead children to make comments they would shy away from in ”real life”. The pressure on children is immense and very worrying – there is no break for these young people, it is quite relentless. Children who are being bullied tell us there is no point switching off their phone, because the messages will just be there waiting for them.”
The answer is not to ban. That’s just sticking your head in the sand hoping it will go away. If you take a rational view – you wouldn’t allow your child in the deep end of a swimming pool and expect them to be able to swim without being taught to – it’s the same with using the internet. We must help our children become emotionally resilient, emotionally aware and know where to turn to for help when they need it. Ironically, many of these answers are on the internet and the ability to communicate online with others who have themselves experienced cyberbullying can be supportive and reassuring.