BULLY FOR YOU
What’s the worst that could happen as a result of a child going online? You don’t have to do much research to come across terrible stories of kids who were assaulted, abducted, or even worse by someone they met through gaming or social media. Fortunately, these sorts of incidents are extremely rare. The worst thing that a child is likely to encounter online is also the worst thing they’re likely to come up against in real life; bullying. Bullying has always been with us, it’s just different now. In less complicated times, if you were being bullied at school you could always retreat to the safety of your bedroom, stick a few Smiths/Nirvana/Radiohead (depending on your era) albums on the stereo and hide from the problem for a bit. Nowadays there’s no escape; bullies can go anywhere your phone goes. And, let’s face it, phones go everywhere.
Statistics on cyberbullying are hard to come by; most of what we know comes from anecdotal evidence. However, a recent survey carried out by Sheffield City Council gives us a snapshot of the problem in one major British city. More than 8,000 children from age 6 to 15, from 79 schools across Sheffield took part in the “Every Child Matters” survey, which the council uses to plan their work with young people. A third of Year Ten girls reported that they had been bullied online, while 16 percent of boys the same age said they’d been bullied too. Cyberbullying is not confined to older children. 15 percent of Year Two’s and 17 percent of Year Fives said they had nasty comments sent to them or posted about them. Pam Smith, of Sheffield Council told Lindsay Pantry of The Yorkshire Post that the survey’s findings were in line with the national picture, and that her authority had an extensive programme of support for schools to ensure children knew the implications of social media and cyberbullying.
Sheffield sets an example which every local authority should follow. There is much good work being done with schools, but even more needs to be done to raise parent’s awareness of what happens to their children online. Whether children are victims of bullying, or are engaged in bullying others, early adult intervention is needed to stop the situation escalating.
Darren Ruddell and Seamus Hilley
Before they became a writing team, Darren Ruddell and Seamus Hilley individually won the prestigious Laughing Horse stand-up comedy (Darren), and The Channel Four sitcom competition (Seamus). Since joining forces they have had a short film produced by Channel Four and had a number of scripts optioned by Talkback and CPL Productions. Their innovative work for Serious Comedy has brought them commissions from numerous organisations, everyone from Lewisham Council to Virgin Media and school children all over the country have grown to love their funny, irreverent take on topics ranging from scooter safety to ecological education. They are based in London.