• Victoria Gallagher

Vulnerable Children ‘At Greater Risk Of Cyber Bullying’

Children who are in care, who are young carers, who have special educational needs, or who suffer with mental health problems or physical difficulties are at a greater risk of cyber bullying, new research has found.

The Independent highlighted the report from Internet Matters, Youthworks and the University of Kingston, noting that one of the big issues is that children are growing up without being given adequate internet safety education.

Adrienne Katz, Youthworks director and co-author of the report, commented: “There is a lack of training and up-to-date advice for those who live and work with vulnerable children. Their digital lives seldom receive the same nuanced and sensitive attention that ‘real life’ adversity tends to attract.”

The report stressed the importance of parents working with their children to manage their internet usage, rather than the imposition of rigid rules.

Among the findings are that children with learning difficulties are one-third more likely to have their social media hacked than other young people, while 27 per cent of children with special educational needs visit sites about self-harm, compared to 17 per cent of their peers.

Banning social media is described as “pointless” in the research, because youngsters find workarounds and simply access it through different devices or platforms.

Earlier this month, the BBC reported on the comments of Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner in Wales, who said that adults can’t keep up with technology and therefore are unable to prevent cyber bullying.

She has urged schools to set up safe spaces where young people can talk about the issues they face online and get support.

If you want help navigating the online environment with your child, get in touch with our special educational needs consultants for assistance and advice.

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