Empowering young people to combat cyberbullying
By Paul Morris, Head of Government Affairs and CSR | Vodafone UK
Cyberbullying affects 1 in 3 children in the UK, and it’s a growing problem. This year, of the 12,248 counselling sessions Childline delivered about online safety and abuse, more than 5,000 mentioned cyberbullying, a 12% jump on the previous year. To help tackle this problem, The Royal Foundation’s Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying – which brings together young people, the voluntary sector and industry partners – has launched number of initiatives, including ‘Stop, Speak, Support’, aimed at 11-16 year olds.
With its launch the UK has become the first country in the world to develop a national youth-led code of conduct for the internet. Created to help children feel empowered to question online behaviour, speak out and support their friends, ‘Stop, Speak, Support’ recognises the need to educate and engage young people in a nationwide effort to prevent cyberbullying. Vodafone is a founding member of the Taskforce, which was set up in 2016 to support young people and their families who have been affected by cyberbullying, and we’re proud to be a part of this new campaign.
A ‘green cross code’ for the web
‘Stop, Speak, Support’ is a code of conduct developed in consultation with young people on the Taskforce. They said that while there are rules and guides for every part of their life, none exist to help them navigate the digital world. To support young people when they are using social media and gaming platforms, the Taskforce has set out a set of recommended behaviours and actions to take when witnessing bullying activity online. This ‘green cross code’ for the web contains three main steps:
- Action 1: Take time out before getting involved, and don’t share or like negative comments.
- Action 2: Try and get an overview of what’s really going on.
- Action 3: Check the community guidelines for the site you’re on.
- Action 1: Ask an adult or friend that you can trust for advice.
- Action 2: Use the report button for the social media it’s happening on.
- Action 3: Speak to one of the charities set up to help with situations like this, such as Childline.
- Action 1: Give the person being bullied a supportive message to let them know they’re not alone.
- Action 2: Encourage the person being bullied to talk to someone they can trust.
- Action 3: Give the person being bullied a positive distraction from the situation.
Joining forces to combat cyberbullying
Chaired by tech entrepreneur Brent Hoberman CBE, Taskforce members are charities such as The Anti-Bullying Alliance, The Diana Award, Internet Matters and the NSPCC, which have teamed up with the private sector. Industry representatives include tech companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, Snapchat and Twitter, along with Supercell, a mobile game development company.
One of the Taskforce initiatives launched yesterday will see social media companies Facebook and Snapchat trial new functionality – developed in consultation with the NSPCC – that will enable users to access support if they witness bullying behaviour. Around 1,000 young people a week will take part in the trial, which if successful could form part of a blueprint for preventing cyberbullying worldwide.
The social media and gaming members of the Taskforce have also agreed to a new set of Design for Safety Guidelines. These include a transparent reporting method and clear explanations of the consequences of online misconduct, as well as a new compliance process to help children and young people stay safe when using their platforms. In addition, the Taskforce members are working on a universal strategy to ensure the quality and reliability of support resources available online for children, parents and other influential adults.
How you can help
Launched during Anti-Bullying Week, the ‘Stop, Speak, Support’ initiative complements Vodafone’s work to help families prevent cyberbullying. Our Digital Parenting Magazine provides expert advice on how parents can teach their children the skills and knowledge they need to stay safe online[i]. Our Be Strong Online Ambassador Programme, created in partnership with the Diana Award, trains students to become advocates for online safety, so that they can help their peers explore the digital world with confidence.
You can help by letting friends and family know about ‘Stop, Speak, Support’, which aims to reach every 11 to 16-year-old in the UK. By working together, we can foster a safer online environment for all our children and young people.