37% rise in cyber bullying reported in schools

Instances of cyber bullying, as well as the viewing of homophobic, racist and pornographic material in the classroom, have increased dramatically in the past year, with teachers asking for more support to help with online safety issues, according to a new report from internet safety company Smoothwall.

Cases of cyber bullying have increased by over a third (37%) in the last 12 months, with the vast majority of teachers (66%) citing cyberbullying as the biggest online safety concern in schools. This far exceeds the second biggest concern for teachers; online grooming (39%). A further 43% of teachers have had to deal with incidents of online bullying in the classroom, as well as 24% dealing with cases of radicalisation at school.

The report also touches on the concerns of inappropriate content being shared. Teachers say that there has been an increase in the sharing/watching of pornographic content by 26%, homophobic and racist content by 25% and extremist content by 21% in the last 12 months. 

It is also becoming increasingly obvious that teachers don’t feel they have the right tools to teach the dangers of the online world; 62% of teachers don’t believe they are fully supported and 84% believe the government should be doing more to help train and prepare them around internet safety in the classroom. Over half (55%) want regular training sessions delivered by online safety experts, 52% want clearer guidelines, 40% want a dedicated helpline and 28% want government-led courses.

‘It is the responsibility of every single stakeholder in education to truly stamp out instances around cyber bullying.’

Teachers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of teaching the risks involved with the internet and the responsibilities they have towards their pupils. 41%)of those surveyed said that online safety is not taken seriously enough at school, and over three quarters (77%) do not believe that companies like Facebook and Google are doing enough to protect young people.

Claire Stead, Online Safety Expert at Smoothwall, said: “Sadly, cyber bullying is the biggest concern for teachers. What is most surprising, and worrying, is that incidents grew by 37% year-on-year. While equally concerning problems such as radicalisation are on the minds of teachers, cyberbullying remains both their biggest concern and most common problem. But this isn’t just a technological problem; it’s also a social one.

“In the digital age, new ways of communicating are commonplace which means we need to teach young people the dos and don’ts within that. It needs to be made clear that a verbal punch online is no different to a physical punch in the playground. They can have equally devastating impacts. It is the responsibility of every single stakeholder in education – from social media or technology companies like ourselves, to schools and the government – to truly stamp out instances around cyber bullying, radicalisation and inappropriate content by using technology to monitor for it and using communication to educate about it.”

On technology in the classroom, 96% of teachers believe technology has had a positive impact on the classroom and 53% say that technology makes the class more vibrant and fun. However, a third (33%) of teachers are concerned that they cannot control what children are doing on their devices the whole time.

You can view #TheDigitalCurriculum report here.

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