Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

ABA guide aims to help SEN cyber-bullying victims

antibullyingallianceThe Anti-Bullying Alliance has produced a guide to help parents and other child health professionals support the increasing number of children with special educational needs who are victimised through cyber-bullying.

According to research carried out by EU Kids Online (2011), 8% of 9-16 year- olds from the UK have been bullied online, while 21% have been bullied at all. The same research shows that children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) are more likely to be victimised in this way.

Cyberbullying and Children and Young People with SEN and Disabilities: Guidance for Teachers and other Professionals includes a range of recommendations to promote the positive use of the internet.

There is also advice on schools’ legal duties, including confiscating electronic devices. Other useful tips include e-safety education – think before you post, respecting peers’ feelings online, and making the issue of cyber-bullying more visible in schools so it can be understood by the whole school community.

Martha Evans, Senior Programme Lead for SEND and Inclusion at the ABA said: “Our findings show that cyber-bullying, and the frequent use of disablist language, are serious issues facing children and young people with SEND when using the internet; but that teachers and parents are not always equipped to provide the advice and support that young people need. Research shows that children and young people with SEND are more likely than those who don’t have any SEND to experience bullying within schools, and to see this may also be the case in cyber-space is extremely worrying. We believe that bullying in any form is wrong and should not be tolerated, and that any environment that encourages bullying, or shows indifference to prejudice and discrimination is unacceptable.”

“We would like to see more in-depth research into the issue, but ultimately the solution lies in better education: not only in the classroom, via formats which ensure the information is accessible by all children and young people, but also better training for teachers and support for parents. It is imperative that we take a collaborative approach to tackling cyber-bullying, and support every child how to use the internet safely and responsibly; helping young people to develop into responsible, self-managing digital citizens who can look after themselves and others to ensure a future that is safe, fun and connected.”

There is also advice for young people on taking action if they are being targeted – including not retaliating or giving into pressure (if you lose your inhibitions online, you’ve lost control), saving evidence of texts, emails and images, and telling a trusted adult or teacher at school. The guide also includes a list of e-safety/cyber-bullying teaching resources and further information and support for pupils with SEN.

To download the full guide, visit http://anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/media/7441/cyberbullying-and-send-module-final.pdf

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