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Cyberbullying: increasing number of children suffering, says ChildLine

08/01/2014 21:18

The number of children suffering at the hands of cyberbullies has sharply increased, with victims often left in despair and struggling to cope, according to ChildLine.
The charity saw 4,507 cases of cyberbullying in 2012-13, up from 2,410 in 2011-12, with an 87% rise in contacts about online bullying, a 41% increase in contacts about self-harm and a 33% increase in young people feeling suicidal.
The charity has also seen a sharp rise in racist bullying online, with more than 1,400 young people telling ChildLine they had been called, among other insults, a terrorist, bomber or had been told to go back where they came from – a 69% increase on last year.
Self-harm was a major concern, said ChildLine – being mentioned in 47,000 counselling sessions, a 41% year-on-year increase. The number of 12-year-olds mentioning self-harm also increased by 50%.
The founder of ChildLine, Esther Rantzen, said the report had to act as a wake-up call. "Far too many of the nation's children seem to be struggling and in despair. It's so important that we support children to talk about issues and look out for signs that they're not able to cope.
"No matter how hard pressed we are, we must commit to giving children time and space to talk about their lives. If they are concealing unhappiness, encourage them to open up and if they can't talk to you, maybe they can talk to ChildLine."
The CEO of the NSPCC, Peter Wanless, said the issues facing children today were different from those experienced by their parents. He said: "Stranger danger, for example, rarely comes up in contacts to ChildLine but depression, self-harm, online bullying and even suicide contacts are increasing exponentially. If we are to help young people we need to listen to what they are telling us about the issues they are facing."
The charity plans to regularly publish all its data around calls to enable children's voices to be heard, he said. "ChildLine is one of the most important sources of information about vulnerable children in the UK and these regular snapshots will help us to keep one step ahead and focused on the areas that are concerning them."
The ChildLine figures come a week after the Prince's Trust said as many as 750,000 young people in the UK may feel they have nothing to live for, citing high unemployment rates among young people as a significant factor.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said every school had to have measures in place by law to prevent cyberbullying. "Thanks to our new curriculum, children will soon be taught how to stay safe online, including cyberbullying, from the age of five. We have strengthened the powers teachers have to tackle bullying. They can search pupils for banned items, delete inappropriate images from phones and give out same-day detentions," she said.
ChildLine was launched in 1986 and has counselled about 3.2 million children.
Children or parents with concerns can call 0800 1111, or contact ChildLine online at www.childline.org.uk

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jan/08/cyberbullying-more-children-affected-childline