What you need to know about Cyberbullying …

It is no secret that the landscape of bullying continues to change, which is why we stress the importance of researching trends, attitudes and behaviours so that we can continue to innovate and develop world-class interventions and ways of tackling cyberbullying. But, what do the stats say?

Latest statistics are taken from Ditch the Label’s Annual Bullying Survey 2017

Frequency

As were are increasingly living more and more of our lives online, cyberbullying is something which can affect anyone at any time:

  • 17% of those surveyed have experienced cyberbullying.
  • 29% of those surveyed reported experiencing cyberbullying at least once a month.
  • 16% surveyed said they were cyberbullied at least once a week.

 

Impacts of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can have serious impacts on the self-esteem and mental health of people who experience it:

  • 41% of people who were cyberbullied developed social anxiety
  • 37% developed depression
  • 26% had suicidal thoughts
  • 26% deleted their social media profile
  • 25% self-harmed
  • 25% stopped using social media
  • 20% skipped class
  • 14% developed an eating disorder
  • 9% abused drugs or alcohol.

 

What counts as Cyberbullying?

When asked about the nature of cyberbullying, here is how our respondents answered:

  • 35% had sent a screenshot of someone’s status or photo to laugh at them in a group chat
  • 25% had trolled somebody in an online game
  • 17% liked or shared something online that openly mocks another person
  • 16% had done something to subtly annoy somebody they didn’t like online
  • 12% had sent a nasty message, either privately or publicly to somebody they know offline
  • 5% had created a fake profile and used it to annoy or upset another person.

 

What have you experienced?

When asked about what happened to those who were cyberbullied, here’s how they responded:

  • 39% had a nasty comment posted on their profile
  • 34% had a nasty comment posted on their photo
  • 68% has been sent a nasty private message
  • 18% had their profile wrongfully reported
  • 23% had been bullied in an online game
  • 24% had their private information shared
  • 18% had somebody impersonate them online
  • 41% had rumours about them posted online
  • 27% had photos/videos of them that they didn’t like


Find out More

Want to know more? Have a read through our past research papers to get an idea of the stats around bullying and other related issues from the last 5 years…

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Research Papers

Find Out More
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We’ve all had ‘that one friend’ who believes themselves to be higher up the social hierarchy than the rest of the kids at school…

Singer-Songwriter Emma McGann, wrote a guest blog for Ditch the Label on how to challenge the label of ‘Queen Bee’… Here’s what Emma had to say:

I was different from a lot of people when I was younger. I was the only girl in my circle of after-school friends – we played football, re-enacted wrestling matches and collected Star Wars memorabilia from cereal boxes. Most girls didn’t like me for it. My hair was always tangled, I never wore make-up and I dressed how I wanted. Most boys didn’t like me for it.

Socially, people never knew how to categorise me. Like that weird looking fork that’s bent and rusty and doesn’t fit with the rest of your cutlery drawer. But I still managed to fit in somehow – I had girl friends and boy friends and floated between different social groups throughout school. There were plenty of others like me too… we weren’t labelled chavs or nerds or mods or the popular crowd. We were just the uncategorised ‘weird looking forks’ that everyone used to keep around.

It’s so hard to just be yourself when you’re a kid because you constantly think you’re under everyone’s microscope. But really, other people are too busy worrying about their own problems. And if they do focus in on yours, they probably have bigger problems than you think. I think I’ve always been less susceptible to the criticism of others for one big reason – my Mum. She allowed me to hang up whatever I wanted in my room. I decided that something would be a dartboard. She endured my endless Cher/South Park/Karen from Will & Grace impressions. She rarely complained, no matter how much I barrelled around the living room playing Time Crisis with a Namco gun or how hard I trampoline-danced on my bed to the “Spice Girls” She let me be me and she taught me that labels are just… lame. I am grateful to have been brought up by someone that didn’t force gender roles upon me. So, shout out to my Mama Bear.

Not everyone tolerated my differences though. To some, I was an easy target on the bus ride home from school. To others, I was just another dot on their ‘irrelevant’ radar. And to some, I was the perfect recruit for their Army of Skanks Please forgive the Mean Girls reference (you secretly loved it). Yes… I fell into the ‘Queen Bee’ trap. A few times.

It is THE MOST TOXIC social experience and form of bullying I’ve ever encountered personally. But like any kind of trouble, if you can already see it coming you can jump out of the way. So, based on my own experiences here are 5 ways to challenge the label of ‘Queen Bee’… (please do not mistake for Queen Bey. You don’t wanna challenge her. Beyonce is better than everyone at everything).

1. Don’t hold onto anger.

Queen Bee’ is a depressing label. So don’t use it. There’s underlying reasons why that person is treating you the way they are. Don’t stoop to their level – you could make it worse. Whether you’re affected directly by the group you’re in or another group of people who target you, one of the biggest emotions we feel in these vulnerable moments is anger. Retaliation solves nothing and anger we keep with us over time only makes us more bitter. While I was uncategorically floating between social groups in school, some people didn’t like my presence. They’d judge me on my tomboy clothes, the bands I liked, the endless lyrics that I scrawled across my school bag, guitar case and school folders… I was a bit alien to some people; just that ‘weird looking fork’ still lingering in the cutlery drawer.

“Queen Bee’ is a depressing label. So don’t use it.”

4 years ago I bumped into a girl that went to my school. It was at a bar that my band was performing at that night. Back in school she was what I would describe as a grade A bully. After the show, she said hello and surprised me by apologising for her judgements towards me in school. Well… it was a good attempt at an apology by any means. Clearly, it was a real shot in the dark for her, but I appreciated her apology. And I did remember everything. But Que Sera, sera… Life moves on, people change and we don’t have to carry a big ol’ bag of anger around with us for the rest of our lives.

2. She’s not the fairest of them all.

Don’t be a fallback support for someone if their actions are undesirable or intimidating to others. If you don’t stand behind them, they won’t act on their own. Back in secondary school one group of girls I often found myself with followed the agenda of just one person. At lunch break, we would go where she wanted to go and naively followed as her backup for any playground drama that she dragged herself into (just think as cliquey as ‘Clueless’ but with less plaid). In a way, we were out to prove ourselves to her. It feels ridiculous to even type that, but such was the social pressures of the playground hierarch.

3. Don’t laugh if it’s not funny

“Don’t feel like you need to join in laughing at someone else’s misfortune and don’t play yourself up to be someone you’re not in front of your friends. “

If you can’t be yourself around your group, maybe they’re not the good friends you thought they were. I’ll never forget the day my best friend stood up to a group of guys at the back of our bus (Yes, there are ‘King Bee’s’ out there too). Whether they were throwing things or hurling comments, I can’t exactly recall, but one thing I do remember was that one guy in their group wasn’t laughing. He actually called out his friends and asked them to stop. He was clearly embarrassed by their actions. My friend had had enough too, stormed up to them and totally put the main culprit in his place. I admired her more than ever in that moment.

4. ‘Fly my pretties!’

If you enjoy following orders you can always enroll in the army… but don’t do other people’s dirty work. Don’t be a bully’s sidekick. Be a hero… or a sidekick to a hero. Robin’s not all bad, is he? As a kid, I was always terrified of the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz. Super creepy stuff. But what you might not know is that you could actually have more in common with them than you think. No, I’m not saying you’re a hairy winged beast… but maybe you’re a minion (and not the adorable yellow, dungarees-wearing kind).

It’s easy for bullies to offload their dirty work onto other people. One day there was a buzz at my door and my usual group of four girls were calling me to come out. Instead of the friendly visit, I was expecting, I was heckled on my very own doorstep. Two girls in the group had decided for whatever reason that they did not like me and no longer valued my friendship. They felt it was imperative to rock up to my place to tell me so. Having been lured out by what I thought was a friendly call was in fact, just the minions at work.

5. Escape the hive

By walking away from a friendship that is toxic, you may even lay a path for others in the group who feel the same. When I say ‘squad goals’ perhaps you think ‘High School Musical’… I know I do. Maybe you think of the type of friends who made your Summer unforgettable. Either way, friendships need to be nurtured. Not all friendships are as healthy as they may seem.

“It’s healthier for you to distance yourself from toxic people. Don’t feel the need to stick around if you’re not comfortable.”

One lunch break, I was asked by a friend to finish her homework. She said she didn’t want help but that she needed me to do it for her. I straight-up refused. Then, I was TOLD I would do her homework and when I refused a second time, I got a boot to the shin. Classy. Before then I don’t know how I hadn’t realised how controlling she had always been over our group. People rarely disagreed with her and apparently, when they did, she responded with violence. Although we made up afterwards, our friendship dwindled and was never the same again. But, it was definitely for the best.

To summarise, we need to embrace our differences and look out for ourselves and our friends. People who are labelled as the ‘Queen Bee’ need a look-out too because all too often, those who victimise others are often victims themselves.

If you’re experiencing problems within friendships and need more help, go to our Community or check out ‘Are They Really Your Friend? 15 Signs That Suggest Otherwise.’

Follow Emma on Twitter and check out her YouTube channel here.

What is Hate Crime?

Hate crime is a criminal offence. It is an act of hatred or aggression directed at a specific person, group or their property. It is motivated by hostility or prejudice against:

  • A personal characteristic
  • Gender identity
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Faith

This may involve bullying, physical assault, verbal abuse and/or insults, damage to property, threatening behaviour, robbery, harassment, offensive letters (hate mail) or graffiti and inciting others to commit hate crimes. The legal consequences for perpetrators can be serious and range from a fine to a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Why Report Hate Crime?

Reporting hate crime is important because it provides a platform from which action can be taken against perpetrators and for the abuse to stop. It can often lead to vital support for the victim and it can also benefit wider society by creating safer public areas.

Hate crime can go unreported for many reasons including:

  • Many people do not know that they can report this kind of abuse
  • People do not know how to report it
  • Some people have reservations or fears around approaching the police or authority figures

An increase in reporting will:

  • Provide more accurate statistics which leads to better services within the justice system and improves how hate crimes are responded to
  • Challenge attitudes and behaviours that endorse hatred towards anyone perceived as ‘different’
  • Encourage early intervention to prevent situations escalating
  • Increase confidence for victims in coming forward to seek support and justice
  • Ensure that the right support is available for those that need it

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How to report Hate Crime

In an emergency, ALWAYS dial 999 or 112 – All calls are free and will be answered by trained operators. If you are in immediate danger, or to report a crime in progress, dial 999 or 112 as above.

Other ways to contact the police:

  • Dial 101 to report non-urgent crimes or to make an enquiry
  • Call in at a police station. You can search by postcode via: http://www.police.uk
  • In incidents where the victim of a hate crime does not wish to approach the police directly there may be a police liaison officer for their region, or a Community Safety Partnership Department. Call 101 for further advice on this.
  • Reporting hate crime online: http://report-it.org.uk/your_police_force
  • Understandably it can sometimes be very difficult to report an incident alone. If you do not have a friend or family member to accompany you, help with reporting via voluntary and other agencies can be found here: http://www.report-it.org.uk/organisations_that_can_help
  • You can also report hate crime anonymously via Crimestoppers here: 0800 555 111 / https://crimestoppers-uk.org

Always tell someone if you have been the victim of a hate crime. You can speak to a digital mentor at Ditch the Label who can help you in dealing with this. Join the community today.

*Tina experienced bullying because of attitudes towards her accent, upbringing and background

I went to the Kings School Ely, a private mixed boarding school near Cambridge from the age of eleven to eighteen and for the most part I have very happy memories of boarding school. Whilst some of the stereotypes of a private education are pretty spot on, for the most part it was a very normal school.

I did experience some bullying in my GCSE year from a boy for who for eight months continually made rude and hurtful comments based on my appearance. On reflection this was quite painful and without knowing it, what he was saying was affirming some underlying fears I had about my physical appearance.

When it became too much I reported it to a teacher. They took action and thankfully it was resolved quite quickly. I left school feeling excited for my gap year and my future. I was confident I would never be bullied again as I wouldn’t allow anyone to treat me like that again. With the beauty of hindsight I now know being bullied is never something you can control or avoid as it is never about you.

“I now know being bullied is never something you can control or avoid as it is never about you”

 

At nineteen I went to Brighton University to study Criminology and Sociology. I felt confident and happy to be leaving my family home. As a fresher I was randomly allocated a room in a flat with 9 people, each building had two floors of nine rooms. I remember hugging mum and dad goodbye with equal parts nerves and excitement.

There was quite a diverse mix of people over the two floors. Included within the group of people I would spend the next year living with were five girls. They were all eighteen, all had never lived away from home, all had attended similar state schools and spoke with similar accents and all dressed the same. When I met them it never occurred to me that they would perceive me as different to them or that, that difference would cause a problem. I carried on with my Freshers Week oblivious of what was to come.

“It never occurred to me that they would perceive me as different to them or that, that difference would cause a problem”

 

Understandably they connected instantly with each other and very quickly formed a group. I spent some time with them initially and they seemed friendly enough. However, that changed very quickly. During the second week I was about to walk into the kitchen and just before I did, I overheard them really laying into someone. I listened for a few moments and my heart dropped when they said my name. They were laying into the way I spoke, the way I dressed, the food I ate – everything about me was up for cruel scrutiny! Each nasty comment was received with laughter and approval. In their opinion I was ‘posh’ and therefore they very wrongly assumed I thought I was better than them. My punishment was to be excluded and ridiculed.

“In their opinion I was ‘posh’ and therefore they very wrongly assumed I thought I was better than them. My punishment was to be excluded and ridiculed”

 

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This was not the first time I had experienced negative attitudes towards my accent or background. I was fairly used to it, even if I did think it was unfair and untrue. However, this was the first time I had lived with people who from the second week of knowing me had made huge, totally unfounded, sweeping judgements about me because of my upbringing.

The term used to describe this type of judgement and bullying is ‘inverted snobbery’ and it is much more common than I think people are aware. It can be defined as someone who looks down their nose on those that might be wealthy, simply because of that fact.

“‘Inverted snobbery’ is much more common than I think people are aware”

 

The bullying that I experienced to begin with was subtle and centred around ways to exclude me. I sought friends I could trust outside of the flat, so it became harder for them to exclude me as I never looked to be included. As they were not getting the reactions they wanted from me, the bullying became more obvious and their behaviour more hostile. It left me feeling very alienated from the whole flat and I socially withdrew from everyone. My drinking increased as a result and when I was on my own in my room I felt unsafe when I could hear them.

One very painful night I tried to stand up for myself verbally in the kitchen. They all had their boyfriends there too, so I was totally outnumbered and I remember feeling very shamed, powerless and deeply hurt by their behaviour and continual judgement of me. I got through that year through blocking them out as best as I could and thankfully after that I never had to see them again.

With hindsight I am shocked it never occurred to me to report it or at least discuss it with a member of staff at University. Moving flats would have really helped and I wish I had taken action around it instead of toughing it out and thinking it was entirely my problem. I can also see that through having me as a common enemy it really bonded them as a group. They were young and nervous to be out of the family home and putting me down made them feel better about themselves.

“I think all bullying behaviour comes from a place of fear”

 

I think all bullying behaviour comes from a place of fear. Maybe they feared I would judge the school they went to, or their accent, or the food they ate or where they came from. Had they taken the time to get to know me they would have seen that I was raised to be open minded and accept people for who they are, not where they come from.

Ditch the Label has really helped me to understand that being bullied is never your fault and the importance of not suffering in silence.

 

If you are being bullied and need help please contact us here

Bullying can of course affect anyone, often leaving young people feeling vulnerable and isolated. This is particularly true for young people with SEN&D (Special Educational Needs and Disability) who may already be experiencing this, thereby creating a double disadvantage.

What the Stats Tell Us

While we shouldn’t assume that all SEN&D young people will be bullied, the facts make for worrying reading. Each year Ditch the Label produces an in-depth bullying survey and from this we know that:

  • 63% of those with a physical disability are far more likely to experience extreme bullying and social exclusion.
  • 67% have self-harmed and 40% have tried to take their own lives.
  • 74% of those with Asperger Syndrome or Autism experience bullying, with verbal bullying being particularly severe.

That this is happening at all should be enough for us to sit up and take notice but considering these figures are significantly above the national average means intervention, action and education is vital and that current approaches are not working.

Bullying can happen in any environment, including special schools, but with many SEN&D young people spending much of their school life in mainstream education, the risks are increased. There are many valuable benefits for inclusion in terms of personal and educational development for all pupils, but it can leave SEN&D pupils vulnerable to the prejudices surrounding disability.

Schools must ensure that they encourage a ‘whole school’ culture of education and respect, which includes the wider community, parents and carers. Negative attitudes towards disability and other conditions need to be addressed from very early on in education and then reinforced as standard throughout school life. SEN&D children may already be treated differently by the adults around them and be doing different schoolwork, so it is vital that this is incorporated into the classroom as smoothly as possible.

Many young people with Asperger Syndrome or Autism can experience huge problems with communication, which makes forming and maintaining friendships difficult. They may not recognise when they are being bullied and additionally, their ability to communicate concerns or to report bullying will be considerably more difficult.

Top Recommendations

Parents, guardian, teachers and other staff members need to be tuned in to the communication style of SEN&D children and young people and the things that they, and their peers are saying. They must be ready to take action where appropriate without stereotyping anyone as a victim.

It is vital to keep an open dialogue with all children around subjects like bullying so that it is never a taboo or awkward conversation. It may be necessary to take a different approach if you suspect someone with SEN&D is being bullied due to their age and level of understanding. For example a direct question may not be the best approach; rather a general chat around the subject giving them the opportunity to voice concerns. If vocal communication is extremely difficult or impossible, then a useful approach can be drawing or using visual prompts like facial expressions.

Every school and college has a legal obligation to safeguard children and young people and this covers the entire day, including breaks and lunch, which can be particularly problematic. But we each have a responsibility to assist in the prevention of bullying.

Parents and guardians can maintain good communication with schools, especially with class teachers and SENCO staff so any issues can be responded to swiftly and dealt with appropriately. This may need to be more than just using a home/school diary.

Ensure that your child knows you are listening and taking it seriously and take the time to reassure them that you will do all you can to sort out any problems. If you feel you need extra support approaching a parents support group that is specific to your child’s condition can be extremely useful.

Ditch the Label are committed to working for a future that is free from bullying and discrimination for ALL young people.

If you would like to find out more or need advice or support please contact us.