Crime study highlights teenage knife carrying [ BBCNewsUK, by Dominis Casciani, 19/5/2011]

Thirteen per cent of 13 to 15-year-olds know someone who has carried a knife for protection, a survey has suggested.

The research estimates that overall 1% of those in the age group carried a knife between 2009 and 2010 – lower than other estimates.

The figures for England and Wales suggest a fifth of 10 to 15-year-olds were bullied in the last year.

The statistics are an attempt to better understand the effects of crime on children and how safe they feel.

The report focuses on a wide range of questions relating to young people’s perceptions of crime and personal safety, rather than the number of them who have actually been victims.

The results are drawn from the 2009-2010 British Crime Survey, a rolling programme of interviews designed to record experiences of crime beyond incidents reported to the police. Some 3,700 children were interviewed.

According to the figures on knives, almost 70% of those aged between 13 and 15 said that carrying a knife meant they would be more likely to be stabbed themselves.

However, the older the children were, the less likely they were to strongly agree that such a risk existed.

Nasty texts

There have been previous attempts to work out how many young people carry a weapon.

A survey by the Youth Justice Board published in 2009 estimated that 23% of young people said they had carried a knife in the previous year.

Typically they admitted to carrying a pen knife – and a third said it was nothing to do with protection. A survey by BBC Radio 1 in 2009 found that 9% of respondents said they carried a knife for protection.

On bullying, boys aged between 10 and 12 were more likely to have experienced bullying than other groups.

Some 6% of children said they had been victims of cyber-bullying – such as nasty texts or postings on websites – in the last year. Girls were more likely to have been cyber-bullied than boys.

Eight out of 10 of those surveyed said they hung around with friends in public spaces – but just over a third said that there was a problem with teenagers hanging around in their neighbourhood.

Overall, the figures suggest that children are more likely than adults to think that there is a problem with teenagers hanging around.

The figures also reveal that children trust the police far more than adults.

According to the survey 87% agreed that “the police would help if you need them”. When asked a similar question, only 50% of adults agreed that police could be relied on to help.

The majority of young people also agreed that police were friendly and treated people fairly “whatever their skin colour or religion”.

These latest figures come almost a year after the Home Office’s first experimental statistics illustrated the problems with quantifying crime affecting children.

That earlier report suggested that up to a quarter of children could be victims of crime – but it stressed that defining a crime involving children was very difficult.

In one example, using the strictest legal definitions, squabbling siblings smashing each other’s toys could be classed as crime – but the children themselves would not consider themselves a victim.

‘One-In-Three’ Children Suffer Bully Attacks [, by Darren Little, 12/5/2011]

More than a third of young people say they have suffered a severe physical or sexual attack by their peers, according to a new survey.

The report carried out by the charity Beatbullying found that serious ‘child on child’ assaults are having a major effect on young people’s mental health.

The survey of 1,001 young adults found that a weapon was used in 28% of the assaults, a third of those attacked also went on to get in trouble with the police later in life.

Emma-Jane Cross from Beatbullying told Sky News: “Society needs to take action and tackle this epidemic head on as a community and no longer perceive severe bullying to be an issue confined only within the school gates.

“An integrated approach is needed from children and families, teachers, police, local authorities and government – we need robust peer-focused, anti-bullying and anti-violence strategies rolled out across every school nationwide.”


Sky News assembled a group of students at Bourneville College in Birmingham to discuss the issue.

Initially they were shocked by the report, but when they began discussing the subject, two of them said they had been severely attacked before.

Given the small sample, it indicated that the survey was accurate within our small group, even given that some may have preferred not to admit such assaults in public.

The consensus seemed to be that while some schools do tackle bullying, others just pay lip service to the issue.

Mike Moore suffered years of physical attacks while he was growing up in Birmingham and now acts as an online mentor, offering advice to bullied children.


Even at the age of 22 Mike feels the effects of what happened to him: “Big groups of people scare me unless I’m with a big group of friends.

“Going out I will tend to sit outside where there’s a lot of space, inside I wouldn’t say I’m claustrophobic but I do pick up where the exits are and choose carefully who I sit by.”

The statistics make for stark reading, until now the main focus has been on the rise of cyber bullying, but it seems more traditional forms are still a major problem.

Some 52% of those asked said they had sustained physical injuries as a result of an attack, a quarter admitted being sexually attacked by a peer.

The main concern of the report is the effect these attacks are having on the victims – almost a fifth of those who have experienced violence have then suffered from an eating disorder, with 17% being prescribed anti-depressants.


Shanon O’Donovan, 15, suffered months of physical attacks before the bullying by another girl was discovered by her parents, and now acts as an online cyber mentor.

She told Sky News: “My mum started to see something was wrong and she sat me down one day with my dad and I explained it all to them.

“It’s horrible for anyone to go through – and if I see bullying being done to someone else now I try do what I can to stop it.”

The report highlights the need for teachers and others to keep a close eye on potential victims of bullying.

It is hoped a more cohesive approach to the issue will make a significant difference to an issue which is clearly still a major problem for a significant number of young people.

Teen Boys With Autism at Risk of Being Bullied: Study [, 11/5/2011]

Among teen boys with an autism spectrum disorder, those who are considered high-functioning are confronted with a greater degree of bullying behavior than their “typically developing” peers, new research indicates.

The observation specifically reflects upon boys aged 12 to 18, and refers to the kind of physical aggression, name-calling, intimidation, rumor-mongering and group exclusion that characterize bullying behavior.

The finding is slated to be reported Wednesday at the International Meeting for Autism Research in San Diego, by a study team led by Elizabeth A. Kelley, assistant professor in the psychology department at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario.

To explore the subject, the investigators focused on 68 adolescent boys, 31 of whom were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

All the study participants completed questionnaires designed to gauge their IQ, language skills, emotional intelligence and prior “peer victimization” experiences. Parents were also asked to discuss their child’s ability to manage social interactions.

Children with autism were found to have lower IQ scores and were less adept at making appropriate judgment calls, the study found.

Judgment skills were not found to have a direct impact on bullying risk. However, for all of the study participants, the ability to manage stress and maintain emotional control did have a bearing on the risk for experiencing peer victimization, the researchers found.

“Difficulty modulating emotional responses appropriately and a lack of ability to cope with stress appear to place adolescents with and without an autism spectrum disorder at risk for peer victimization,” the study authors concluded.

Because children with autism were less able to manage their emotional responses and stress, and were not skillful at reflecting upon and expressing their own thoughts and feelings or understanding those of their peers, they were therefore at greater risk of being bullied than typically developing boys, the findings suggested.

Experts note that research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Survey Says: 7.5 Million Kids on Facebook Are at Risk [, by John Brandon, 10/5/2011]

Facebook on a Monitor
April 21, 2010: The Facebook logo is displayed on a computer screen in Brussels. (REUTERS/Thierry Roge)

As many as 7.5 million kids under the age of 13 are using the Facebook service, despite the company’s official prohibition — 5 million under the age of 10.

For minors who lack the experience or judgment to use a social network, this raises the scary potential of sexual predators tracking down kids who reveal their age in an online chat, cyberbullying and more, according to a new survey released Tuesday by Consumer Reports.

“A million kids were bullied on Facebook in the last year,” Jeff Fox, technology editor at Consumer Reports, told “A 10-year-old is not well-equipped to deal with those things.”

Fox said Facebook recognizes that kids should not use the service and prohibits access to those under 13. But the age verification system is weak, he said: It’s too easy to lie about your age. Facebook could instead use existing age verification services such as Privo. Or a parent could first prove their age using credit card verification and then vouch for the child’s age, he suggested.

Facebook declined to comment specifically to about the Consumer Reports survey, but did release an official statement about the Consumer Reports survey.

“Recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to implement age restrictions on the Internet and that there is no single solution to ensuring younger children don’t circumvent a system or lie about their age,” the statement reads. “We appreciate the attention that these reports and other experts are giving this matter and believe this will provide an opportunity for parents, teachers, safety advocates and Internet services to focus on this area, with the ultimate goal of keeping young people of all ages safe online.”

A serious issue?
Child safety is but one aspect of a complex problem. The Consumer Reports survey found that has many as 5 million computers in U.S. households were exposed to a virus. There’s another twist: The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) makes it illegal to collect information about kids using an Internet service, said Ross Ellis, the founder of child-advocacy group Love Our Children USA.

In 2006, the FTC fined popular blogging site $1 million for collecting information about minors. The COPPA guidelines are strict, Ellis said, with plenty of paperwork to sign for a parent to approve a child’s access, and most sites just restrict access altogether.

Cyberbullying is yet another problem: Younger kids aren’t as emotionally developed to deal with adults and teens who make hurtful comments.

“Everything from hurt feelings to emotional abuse, isolation, depression and humiliation can result from posts on Facebook,” said Tom Jacobs, a retired juvenile judge who wrote the book “Teen Cyberbullying Investigated” and runs the site Ask the Judge.

Consultant John Bambenek told that the “nightmare scenario” is not for kids to flirt online or engage in instant message chat with strangers — but simply posting pictures. Predators can download the images and determine the child’s exact location using embedded GPS data. A program called Creeper even does this automatically, he warned.

Of course, these concerns should be taken in context: The survey focused on the 7.5 million kids using Facebook, but that’s a small percentage of the 500 million users worldwide.

Dealing with the problem
Social media expert Dr. Marcella Wilson of Wilson Consulting told that parents should better monitor their child’s Internet access overall. She advises creating a contract between parent and child about how the Internet will be used.

Bob Gaines, a consultant with security firm, said parents and kids should follow basic Facebook protocol. Avoid stating your location or saying you are home alone; in your profile, do not reveal your exact age; and of course, make sure you know your child’s username and password.

But in the end, Facebook needs to address the problem, said Denise Tayloe, the founder of Privo.

“Magically, everyone using these services is over 13,” she said — hinting that something is clearly amiss.

France Say No To Facebook Bullies [, by Mike Smith, 7/5/2011]

When the video of poor Casey Heynes aka The Punisher hit the internet it had many disbelieving how brazen bullies can be, it now seems long gone are the days of bullies restricting their movements to the playground and they are now venturing online and becoming cyberbullies.

There are many people trying to stamp out this new wave of cyberbullying, back in March Maddy Rowe brought us news on the US stepping in with Barrack Obama backing an anti-bullying campaign, now the next country to step up to the plate and say no to Facebook bullies is France.

This new campaign is being backed by both French Educational Minister Luc Chatel and the social network itself, their quest to squash this online behaviour will involve singling out students that have bullied other people through the network, once singled out these people will then have their accounts closed. You can read more about this in this post from

Although the two parties hope to kick this campaign into full swing as soon as possible there is still a little bit of confusion regarding how they will define what constitutes as cyberbullying, for more serious cases Chatel had this to say “we will ensure that the victim’s relatives have a system to file complaints. This will be made available through a partnership with the Central Office dedicated to fight cyber-crimes.”

It’s good to see more people actively getting involved to try and stem the constant abuse that some people are put through when using social networking sites, have you ever experienced any kind of negativity whilst using sites like Facebook?

Phoebe Prince suicide: What can be done about bullying? [, by Sarah Anne Hughes, 5/5/2011]

Sean Mulveyhill, center, was accused of bullying Phoebe Prince so relentlessly that the 15-year-old hanged herself. (By Gordon Daniels/Associated Press)

Five teens charged with bullying that contributed to the suicide of Phoebe Prince accepted plea deals this week, ending the long court-proceedings and offering Prince’s family some closure. But the question remains: What can be done to prevent this from happening again?

The 15-year-old moved from Ireland to Massachusetts in 2010 and began attending South Hadley High School as a freshman. Prosecutors say Prince was targeted by a group of girls because she had briefly dated a senior football player, Sean Mulveyhill, and another popular student. They allegedly intimidated her and called her names, both at school and on the Internet. Prince committed suicide Jan. 14.

Mulveyhill, who prosecutors say encouraged some of the girls to bully Prince after he broke up with her, and Kayla Narey pleaded guilty to criminal harassment Wednesday and were sentenced to a year’s probation and community service. Mulveyhill didn’t speak, while Narey told the court, “I am immensely ashamed of myself that I allowed my emotions to spiral into acts of unkindness.” Three other students — Ashley Longe, Sharon Chanon Velazquez and Flannery Mullins— accepted similar deals on Thursday. None of the five teens will serve any jail time. The single statutory rape charge against Austin Renaud was dropped yesterday.

Anne O’Brien, Prince’s mother, addressed the court yesterday, saying “It is nearly impossible to measure the impact of Phoebe’s death upon our lives. … There is a dead weight that now sits permanently in my chest.” She also read one of Prince’s last texts: “I can’t take much more. … It would be easier if he or the other of them handed me a noose.”

his heart-breaking suicide, along with several similar cases, has brought national attention to bullying and cyber-bullying. The Post’s Valerie Strauss wrote that, although more than 40 states have a law that makes bullying illegal, it is not enough to stop the problem:

“Researchers say that the only kind of anti-bullying program with any hope of reducing such behavior involves the entire school community, such as the the Olweus Program (pronounced Ol-VEY-us) for elementary, junior high and middle schools. (You can find reports analyzing different bullying programs here.) That means that every adult in the school, from the principal to the janitor, must be trained in how to recognize bullying and what actions to take to stop it.”

In March, President Obama hosted the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, where he said he was bullied as a kid, and launched The president had previously recorded an anti-bullying message for the “It Gets Better” campaign, created by columnist Dan Savage “to inspire hope for young people facing harassment.”