The easy accessibility and anonymity of the Internet allows bullies and abusers to target their victims in a more personal, destructive way than ever before.
17-year-old Sophie Thorne from Swindon was a victim of app bullying for several months in 2012.
She described how it started out as name calling and gradually became more and more personal. Soon, the abuse became death threats and Sophie felt so alone and helpless that she began to self-harm.
Thousands of young people across the world get targeted by online bullies, begging the question – why can’t they simply turn their phones off?
Of course, as senior child protection officer Peter Davies explains, the solution isn’t as simple as that: “For a lot of people Internet access in their pocket is an integral part of their life and it’s how they keep in touch with their friends.”
He said the team had one case in 2011 where two men from Kuwait abused and blackmailed children from all over the world, particularly in the UK. Abusers are increasingly persuading young girls to send explicit pictures, which they then use as blackmail bait.
Claire Lilley of the NSPCC says the worrying thing is that it’s almost impossible to know how many children are being targeted because the technologies move so fast. As soon as data is gathered, the technology moves on and the findings become redundant.
If you know someone who might be a victim of online abuse or bullying, it is important to get help to put a stop to it. To find out more about the help available, please visit our Bullying page where we have a section dedicated to cyber bullying.
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