New research launched to mark the start of National Anti-Bullying Week

  • 38% of children 9 to 18-year olds don’t think the Government is doing enough to keep people safe online
  • 44% of children who have been bullied online, have said its happened in the last six months
  • 16% of 10-year old children have had suicidal thoughts because of online bullying and harassment

In the wrong hands the internet can be used to spread hateful, explicit content and abuse. Online harms are not only widespread but can have very serious consequences. Children who have been harassed or bullied online are left with mental health issues including depression (52%), feeling humiliated (46%), scared (42%), lonely (42%) and in the worst cases having suicidal thoughts (12%).

44% of children aged 9 to 18 who have been bullied online, said it happened in the last six months during lockdown, taking place on Facebook (30%), WhatsApp (25%), Snapchat (23%), Instagram (22%) and school networks (10%).

Appearance tops the list for reasons targeted for bullying (46%) followed by an illness or disability (11%) and sexual orientation (11%).

Over two thirds (68%) of primary and secondary school teachers don’t think there are currently enough parameters to keep children safe online.

The new research comes from safeguarding software specialist Impero at the start of National Antibullying Week.

Today, they are calling on the Government to review their Online Harms Bill sooner, a White Paper that proposes measures to boost the tech-safety sector in the UK, and make social media companies more accountable. It comes as four in 10 children say they don’t think the Government is doing enough to keep people safe online.

Whilst it’s being evaluated, parents and teachers are urged to work together to support children in navigating the online environment to help limit distressing experiences amongst our most vulnerable.

Since returning to school, one in five (20%) teachers agree there’s an increase in the volume of online bullying incidents. Almost two thirds (64%) of teachers say their student has reported online bullying to them. When asked how they handle the situation, 83% report the incidents to the school’s safeguarding lead, whilst 63% instead explained to the pupil the steps they should take, such as blocking the bully’s access to their profiles. But 16% say they don’t feel prepared to deal with it at all.

As a result of the incidents, teachers have seen noticeable changes in the students’ behaviour with 59% seeming quieter, 53% more withdrawn and 28% depressed.

Worryingly, 17% of 9-year olds say they don’t report bullying, along with 26% of 14-year old and 27% or 18-year olds.

The research also revealed other threats that children are exposed to online. Children admit to having seen cruelty to animals (30%), violence and distressing content (29%), hate sites (17%) terror attacks, beheadings and bombings (14%), self-harm sites (14%) pro-anorexia and eating disorder content (14%) and even children as young as 10 have seen sexual abuse and rape (12%).