The Duke of Cambridge launched a guide for children on how to cope with a “banter escalation scenario”, after bringing together social media giants to help combat cyberbullying. Making UK the first country in the world to launch a national, youth-led, code of conduct for the internet.
The Duke announced a “green cross code” for the 21st century, teaching young people aged 11-16 what to do if they fall victim to “really dangerous” anonymous bullying online.
The project, from the Royal Foundation’s Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying, will see organisations including broadband companies, Apple, Facebook, Google, Snapchat and Twitter work with the NSPCC and Diana Award to announce a code of conduct for the internet urging young people to “stop, speak, support”.
It asks them to stop and consider what the situation is before joining in negative activity online, speak to an adult, a charity or report any abuse if they are concerned, and offer support to the individual being targeted.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive and taskforce charity partner, said: “We know it can be very difficult for young people being bullied online or in person to tell someone what’s happening to them. Many are simply too scared to speak out or they believe somehow that it’s their fault.
“By helping to create the ‘Stop, Speak, Support’ campaign we are empowering young people to support their friends who are being bullied online.”
After more than 18 months of work, the Royal Foundation’s Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying has put together a plan they hope will to put the UK on the path to become the global leader in supporting young people online.
“‘Stop, Speak, Support’ provides simple steps for children and teenagers who witness cyberbullying to follow, with an emphasis on encouraging their peers to speak out and seek help from either a trusted adult or Childline, because bullying doesn’t go away on its own,” Wanless added.
Taskforce members are also building a universal strategy for information, to ensure all online resources for support and help – whether aimed at young people or parents –are high quality and reliable.
Facebook and Snapchat have also worked with the NSPCC to create new support functions that will be trialled among groups of young people.
However this is just the beginning of the journey to make the internet a safer space for children and young people.
Carolyn Bunting, general manager of taskforce partner Internet Matters offered some advice for parents worried about cyberbullying.
“Children are born into a digital world; they are learning, communicating and growing up online,” she said.
“But the online world can pose certain risks, such as cyberbullying.
“Parents need to ensure they’ve had early conversations with their children about the importance of staying safe online and help build their digital resilience.”
She said, “ If your child is using social media or communicating online, don’t wait until they experience cyberbullying to talk to them.”
“ Discuss with your child what they should be sharing online and how it could invite bullies. Find out about the apps, social networks and online games they are using and what they are able to share through them. Set safety filters on their devices and ensure privacy and settings are at the highest level on social media.”
“ Check in with your child regularly and look out for signs of cyberbullying. Remember that children can be targeted by cyberbullies at anytime and online bullies can be anonymous. Teach your child what to do if they want to prevent or report abusive messages, including keeping the evidence with screengrabs.”