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Increase in reports of online bullying in Sussex schools
6:20pm Wednesday 6th February 2013 in News
Parents and teachers are contacting police to report more and more online bullying.
Some of the messages sent to children over the past few weeks in Sussex – including one where a schoolgirl was told “to die” and a 15-year-old was threatened with being beaten up – have left children afraid to go to school.
But officers are also concerned that they do not know the true scale of the problem because many of the victims are too afraid to come forward.
Now Sussex Police has urged children to use the internet and mobile phones safely – and to report any threats they receive.
PC Kate Brookman, a neighbourhood schools’ officer, said she received complaints from shocked parents and school staff every few days in the Hailsham and Heathfield areas.
She said: “A 13-year-old received insulting messages on Blackberry Messenger and another was too worried to attend school after suffering threats via Facebook that he would be beaten up.
“Parents removed a child’s Xbox after the 15-year-old was threatened with being beaten up.
“Another read on an internet site that a girl wanted her to die.
“Obviously some are more serious than others but it concerns me that these are just the ones I know about.
“The message should be clear that you should not accept people’s messages if you don't know them, send photos of yourself to people you don't know, or accept images from people you don’t know.
“A person cannot be a friend if you have never actually met them.”
Balfour Primary School in Brighton also warned parents about internet safety, highlighting apps that could be used by children to bully others.
Richard Follett, the child exploitation and online protection (CEOP) ambassador for East Sussex, said: “The key is communication between parents and their children.
“Worryingly, around 70% of parents with teenage children believe they as adults know less about the internet than their children.
“Add to this the statistic which suggests 30% of parents are concerned that their children may be giving out personal details to inappropriate people, and you can see we have a growing problem.”
POLICE SAFETY ADVICE
- Don’t ‘befriend’ people you have never met. Don’t send personal information, including photographs, via any social network site.
- If you are the victim of any sort of threats or abuse, report it to parents, teachers or the police.
- Parents need to be aware of what their children are doing and who their friends are on social networking sites.
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