Findings from recent research conducted by University Camps Suffolk (UCS) into the experiences of young people and vulnerable adults in relation to Cyberbullying and Cyberabuse, has found that 19% of young people in Suffolk claim to have been cyberbullied. 10% of those surveyed also claim to have personally received some form of homophobic insult, message or action directed against them.
Results from the Suffolk Cybersurvey, conducted by UCS lecturers Dr Emma Bond and Pelham Carter, were released during the e-Safer Suffolk Conference held in conjunction with Suffolk County Council at UCS Ipswich today in the lead up to Safer Internet Day and Anti-Bullying Week- national campaigns aimed at raising awareness of internet safety and tackling the issues of bullying.
High profile speakers at the Conference included Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet International- a children’s charity working with others to help make the internet a great and safe place for children, and Stephen Carrick-Davies, an independent freelance professional working in the fast-changing field of new communications technology, predominantly where it impacts on the lives of children, parenting, schools and the wider society.
Leaders and managers of organisations who work with, or provide services for, vulnerable adults, children and young people, were able to attend talks and workshops on topics such as social media and cyber mentors, with the ultimate aim of improving their knowledge of online safety within their roles.
There was also an opportunity to understand from the Suffolk Cybersurvey the very real concerns that young people and vulnerable adults have of falling victim to online scams and even more concerning online grooming.
Councillor Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council’s portfolio holder for Children, Schools and Young People’s services said: “It is fantastic to see so many professionals come together today with the aim to better understand the issues affecting young people when faced with the very real dangers of online bullying, falling victim to a scam or even more serious an issue – online grooming.
“Armed with this extensive research, I feel the county council is better able to advise and support young people, their parents and schools to safeguard against these risks. There is already a great deal of work going on to ensure that young people are aware of the potential risks and have the confidence to talk to an adult about any online behaviour that causes upset or concern.”
The Suffolk Cybersurvey, commissioned as part of Suffolk’s e-Safer Strategy, is part of a larger e-safety research initiative at UCS which will be published later this year.
Dr Emma Bond, UCS Senior Lecturer in Childhood and Youth Studies, said: “UCS has been working with Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Police and the Children’s Trust to develop the e-Safer strategy. What has been achieved in relation to esafety in Suffolk to date has been incredible – having launched the strategy in September, we ran the CyberSurvey in the lead up until Christmas and got 1, 265 children and young people responding. The conference today is a testament to the enthusiasm and commitment to developing the esafety agenda in Suffolk and it is fantastic to see so many professionals involved. With few exceptions, most schools have engaged with promoting positive behaviour in online environments and as a result more children and young people are able to take advantage of the amazing opportunities that the internet and social media offer as well as being aware of the risks and they are more likely to talk to someone if they are worried.”
She continued: “There is still a long way to go though and we are only just beginning to understand the changing landscape of risk. New risks are emerging and clearly more research is needed but we will continue our work in these rapidly changing contexts of childhood and youth. It is not a matter of keeping children away from the internet and social media but about empowering them to think about what they are doing online, to be responsible, to learn and have fun but also stay safe.”
To view the full findings from The Suffolk Cybersurvey, please visit www.ucs.ac.uk/suffolkcybersurvey.