- Children and young people are able to identify a wide range of common negative online experiences, including negativity about looks and identity, being frozen out from the ‘in’ groups and threats of violence. They would like to have more opportunities to share their experiences of online bullying and discuss coping strategies in safe, non-judgmental spaces.
- Peer-led strategies and interventions are valued by many children and young people.
- Teachers often lack information about new technology and how they are used by children and young people and many feel overwhelmed by the issue.
- They often have to deal with the consequences of bullying taking place overnight and after school hours, as well as the impact this has on children’s ability to learn.
- Some teachers can find parents’ behaviour undermining if they intervene inappropriately online after their children have been bullied, or do not restrict children’s access to apps and games designed for older young people or adults.
- Young people and professionals feel parents are unsure about what to do about online bullying and that they often do not understand their children’s online lives.
- They can feel disappointed if schools do not take action regarding online bullying.
Our immediate actions
- Share the findings of this work with those responsible within Welsh Government for its Positive Parenting campaign ‘Parenting. Give It Time’, national online safety action plan and the re-drafting of the national anti-bullying guidance ‘Respecting Others’, to ensure the views captured here help share their future work.
- Provide actions packs and resources to enable peer-to-peer support by working with hundreds of schools across Wales who are active members of our Ambassador schemes to establish groups / panels in schools who could lead on peer-to-peer support.
- Explore with Wales’ Police and Crime Commissioners what role police forces have in protecting children and young people online and how that can be communicated to children, parents and professionals.
- Explore the key messages about cyberbullying in teacher training delivered by our office, this includes training delivered to our network of Ambassador schools each year.
Our medium-term actions
- Continue to influence the development of the new Curriculum in Wales, to ensure human rights and children’s rights education is at its heart. In so doing, children and young people will be encouraged to use rights to understand and describe their relationships with others and will encourage them to critically examine their own attitudes and behaviours.
- Continue to influence the development of a whole school approach to wellbeing that includes an anti-bullying policy that the whole school community (pupils, parents and school staff) have ownership over and are signed up to, and that includes a common understanding on how cyber-bullying will be responded to
- Influence Welsh Government, the National Association for Education Leadership, and the regional education consortia to develop professional learning opportunities for teachers to enhance their understanding of effective anti-bullying approaches.
- Work with The Children’s Commissioner for England to support her efforts in asking UK Government to tackle social media companies on the issue of under 13s regularly using social media platforms designed for older children.
- Support the work of our international counterparts in the development of a new United Nations General Comment on Digital Rights of Children and Young People in 2019. This will provide international guidance on how to protect children’s human rights in the digital world.
Our long-term ambition
We want to see a Wales which protects children’s rights, wherever they are, including online.We expect the Welsh Government to continue to work with partners in local authorities, regional education consortia, Estyn and our office, in order to take forward action on the strong messages contained within this report.It is clear from children and young people that unless incidences of bullying, including cyber-bullying, are routinely recorded and acted upon, there is unlikely to be a significant change in the experiences of children across Wales.We look forward to continuing to work alongside these organisation to realise that ambition to protect children’s rights wherever they are.