Bullying and harassment (cyberbullying) can occur through mobile phones as well as online. It can be done anonymously with a pay-phone or from an Internet Café. Staff can also be subjected to ‘cyberbullying’ by pupils. Unacceptable and threatening photographs and videos can be used. Ownership of a mobile phone may also be a cause for bullying resulting in theft.
School staff, parents and young people need to work together to prevent such behaviour and to tackle it whenever it occurs.
Pupils should be aware of
- how to protect themselves from mobile phone theft;
- procedures for reporting the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, hence disabling the phone if it is lost or stolen;
- rules about mobile phones within school and guidelines for how and when they can be used; and
- how to react when threatened whether the medium is mobile phone, email, chat-room, or instant messenger services,
- Email – report to the email service provider, block the sender and change email address.
- Chat rooms and instant messaging – inform the service provider, leave the room, don’t add unknown contacts.
- Websites – Pages should be copied and printed from the website concerned for evidence, and the Internet service provider (ISP) responsible for hosting the site should be contacted immediately.
Many sites include practical advice for pupils, teachers and parents on tackling cyberbullying:
- A report entitled ‘Virtual Violence – Protecting Children from Cyberbullying’ has been published by Beatbullying.
- The Department for Education has published extensive guidance for schools on tackling bullying, including cyberbullying.
- The Anti-bullying Network – provides information for teachers and other professionals who work with young people
- Kidscape– advice for young people on how to respond to cyberbullying
- There 4 Me– the NSPCC site providing help for young people
- Chat Danger– a website about the potential dangers of interactive online services like chat, instant messaging, email and mobiles.
- Childnet International – plenty of advice and teachers’ resources. Look for the ‘Prank or Pain’ link through their ‘Know it All’ project link.
- Internet Watch Foundation – support website with information on filtering, protection, and an area to report illegal content.
- Kidsmart – part of the Childnet stable of websites, dealing with Internet safety programmes for schools, young people and parents.
- Further advice on bullying for young people is available on the nidirect website.
- Advice for parents is also available at www.nidirect.gov.uk/dealing-with-bullying.
- Protecting Children’s Privacy Online – A Guide for Parents, Carers and Educators
Phone network service providers can assist through the phone numbers below:
- Orange – 07973 100 150, or 150 from an Orange phone
- Vodafone – 08700 700 11, or 191 from a Vodafone phone
- O2 – 08705 678 678, or 4445 from an O2 phone
- Virgin Mobile – 0845 6000 070, or 789 from a Virgin Mobile phone
- 3 Network – 08707 330 333, or 333 from your 3 Network phone
- T-Mobile – 0845 412 5000
For bullying phone calls through a landline, the numbers of the providers below may be useful:
- British Telecom Nuisance Call Advisor – freephone 0800 661 441
- View British Telecom’s (BT) website for more information
Grooming and child pornography
In the United Kingdom it is illegal, online and offline, to
- entice or coerce a child under 16 to engage in sexually explicit conduct;
- import or transport obscenity using telecommunications public networks (but, interestingly, not exporting it to the UK from outside the UK);
- knowingly receive child pornography;
- advertise child pornography;
- depict minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct (even in pseudo-form);
- depict someone engaged in sexually explicit conduct who appears to be a child; and
- advertise or promote sexually explicit conduct by giving the impression that minors are engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Pseudo-photographs, those images which appear to be photographs whether made by computer-graphics or otherwise, are also covered under the child pornography laws.
The law also protects children against luring or attempts to lure them into an offline meeting for the purposes of performing illegal sexual acts, or coercing them to provide sexually explicit photos of themselves.
It is an offence for a person aged 18 or over to meet intentionally, or to travel with the intention of meeting, a child under the age of 17 in any part of the world, if he has met or communicated with that child on at least two prior occasions, and intends to commit a “relevant offence” against that child either at the time of the meeting or on a subsequent occasion. The contact with the child may take place through communications on the Internet, but equally, it could, for example, be through meetings, letters, text messages or telephone conversations. An example would be where a person communicates with the child over the Internet, expressing his intention that they engage in sexual activity.
The offence of meeting a child following sexual grooming is complemented by the civil Risk of Sexual Harm Order (RSHO) provided for by sections 123 to 129 of this Act.
The RSHO requires that the adult has engaged in sexually explicit conduct towards or communication with a child on at least two occasions but not that the adult must travel to meet or meet the child intending to commit a sex offence. The content of the communication must be sexually explicit for an order to be obtained. The court can make an order containing restrictions on the defendant’s behaviour where it believes it necessary to do so to protect the child, or other children, from harm caused by the defendant engaging in further such sexually explicit conduct or communication. For further information see the Northern Ireland Guidance on Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Stop it Now
Stop it Now is a charitable trust providing a public information and awareness raising campaign regarding child sexual abuse. It can advise those who suspect they are, or know someone who is, abusing children. Freephone 0808 1000 900
Any cases where a child is considered to be potentially at risk online should be reported immediately to the local police.
Online abuses and harassment should also be reported to the software service, ISP or mobile phone operator.
Report breaches of C2k filtering at once to the Helpline: 0870 6011 666
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre also provides a facility for reporting abuse on the Internet.
If online content is potentially illegal, to the Internet Watch Foundation.
The urzone website is sponsored by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and provides advice and help on a range of issues affecting young people in Northern Ireland, including guidance on how to stay safe online.