Study reveals Norfolk’s children have been cyber-bullying victims

More than a quarter of Norfolk's school children have been the victims of cyber-bullying, a new study involving thousands of youngsters has revealed.

Research carried out by the county council at the end of last year discovered 27.9pc of young people had experienced the distress, fear, and humiliation often associated with the technology-based abuse.

The survey was carried out in November with 5,700 Norfolk children at schools all across the county.

Yesterday, the results of the study were revealed for the first time as a report by charity Beatbullying revealed a very similar picture nationally, with 28pc of 11 to 16-year-olds across the UK also reporting they had been victims.

Last night, Rita Adair, senior specialist educational psychologist for Norfolk County Council, said: 'The figures on cyber-bullying are the ones we really need to watch – because they are not necessarily ever going to go down.


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'Technology has moved on dramatically over the past few years. Whereas before we were looking at text and email bullying, we now have social networks.

'We will never be able to stand still – we will always have to keep tackling this issue.'

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The county council study found bullying via text messages was the most common form of cyber-bullying – with 36.3pc of children affected having been targeted in that way.

But social networks are now involved in 33pc of incidents involving Norfolk youngsters and internet chat rooms account for a further 28pc.

Yesterday, police, council workers, and charities working with young people in the county all said they had seen an increase in the number of cases of cyber-bullying – which can involve mobile phones, computers and games consoles – reported to them.

It is thought the rise is the result of more and more people using the internet as well as an increased willingness by children to talk about the problem.

Angela Francis, co-ordinator of Red Balloon Norwich, which supports young people recovering from severe bullying, said: 'It causes quite a lot of distress.

'My view is that cyber-bullying is far worse than the more traditional idea of bullying because it really messes with the mind. With things like Facebook and Little Gossip, the child doesn't even necessarily know who it is that's getting at them. It plays with their mind and the anxiety levels get higher and higher. You can't see the mental health scars – young people just suddenly blow and it can be very traumatic.'

Beatbullying's Virtual Violence II study found, in more than a quarter of cases of cyber-bullying, the victim was continuously targeted, suggesting one in 13 secondary school pupils – or more than 350,000 – have faced persistent abuse.

Of those who had been persistently cyber-bullied, 23pc said it had lasted more than a year while 40pc said it had gone on for weeks or months.

The youngsters said it had made them reluctant to go to school, lowered their confidence and made them feel unsafe.

A worrying 5pc said they had resorted to self-harm while 3pc admitted attempting suicide.

Teachers were also found to be regular victims.

victoria.leggett@archant.co.uk

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