COLUMN: Bullying doesn't stop at the school gates

With the rise in social media, there's no escape from bullying for many youngsters
With the rise in social media, there's no escape from bullying for many youngsters

Social media is a major part of many young people’s lives, and provides a great way for them to interact with friends in their spare time.

But it can leave bullying victims feeling like there is no escape.

Bullying is no longer a problem that stops at the school gates. With the growth of social media and children’s ability to remain connected to peers at all times via mobile devices, bullying is becoming a 24/7 issue.

At Childline’s Nottingham base our counsellors carried out 593 counselling sessions about cyber-bullying with young people from across the UK in 2016/17, up from 159 in 2011/12.

Years ago a young person could escape their bullies when they left the playground and get some respite in the safety of their home, but now the growing role that the internet plays in their daily lives means they can be targeted around the clock.

Bullying, regardless of whether it occurs online or in person can have a devastating impact on a young person, affecting their self-worth, leaving them feeling isolated and potentially being a trigger for depression.

And bullying can happen to anyone at any age. No one has the right to treat someone in this way, so if someone is being bullied, they don't have to put up with it.

We want them to know that they can talk to someone about it. They are not alone – Childline can help.

If a child is being bullied, Childline counsellors advise them to:

• Tell someone – speak to a friend, parent/guardian or someone they trust. Even if they’re not ready to take it further they can offer them support.

• Find a way to stay safe – stay away from people known to be involved in bullying, if bullying happens on the way home make sure they’re accompanied or get a lift.

• Block the bully – make sure they don’t have access to social media accounts and don’t reply to any abusive messages as this can make the situation worse.

• Build self-esteem – it is easy to start believing that the insults are true, even though they are not. Getting confidence back can help children deal with bullying.

Anyone being bullied can speak to a Childline counsellor by calling 0800 1111 or through a one-to-one chat online at www.childline.org.uk. There is also advice from other young people on the online message boards.