Unions welcome internet clampdown

SUFFOLK teaching unions today welcomed a new government clampdown on bullies who use the internet and mobile phones to target other children and teachers.

SUFFOLK teaching unions today welcomed a new government clampdown on bullies who use the internet and mobile phones to target other children and teachers.

The guidance is designed to help schools, pupils and parents tackle so-called “cyber-bullying”.

A recent study by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) showed that up to 34pc of 12 to 15-year-olds had experienced some form of cyber-bullying.

And there is growing concern from teaching unions that school staff are increasingly falling victim to bullies who send abusive text messages or e-mails and post offensive clips on the internet.

Today, Martin Goold from the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), backed the tougher approach.

He said: “We have had some instances of this, particularly with teachers being targeted by pupils.

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“But whether its teachers or pupils who are the victims, it must be taken seriously and seen as the crime it is because it can have a serious effect on people.

“We also think the police should be more involved. It is important to make clear to any child doing this it is illegal.

“It is necessary to increase vigilance and take firm action against the perpetrators.”

The new measures were developed in consultation with anti-bullying experts, mobile phone companies and websites including Bebo, MySpace and YouTube.

An online campaign called 'Laugh At It And You're A Part Of It' will run on teenage networking websites for six weeks and a short film will be available for teachers to screen in classrooms.

Schools will also receive guidance on drawing up anti-bullying policies to cover cyber-bullying, how to have offensive or malicious material removed from websites, and confiscating equipment.

The package will be supported by peer mentoring schemes in which older pupils will help teachers tackle the problem and a programme which aims to prevent poor behaviour by teaching pupils about conflict resolution and the consequences of their actions.

Keith Anderson, Suffolk secretary for the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, backed the proposals.

He said: “We welcome these measures because it's been a real issue and a concern to our members.

“We are starting to scratch the surface of cyber bulling.

“We have to send a clear message that this is not acceptable. It's about privacy, safeguarding and protection.”

Have you fallen victim to cyber bullying? What effect has it had on you? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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