Bullying at school affects health 40 years later. [The Telegraph, by Rebecca Smith, 18/04/2014]

Researchers said the effects of bullying were as serious as sexual or physical abuse by an adult or childhood neglect.

A major long-term study found children who were bullied were more likely to experience depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and poor physical health when they were 50-years-old than those who had not been victimised.

Senior author, Professor Louise Arseneault, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said: “When we compared the effects to other childhood adversities such as being put in care, abuse by an adult or neglect, it is of the same scale. It is should be put in the same bracket.

“Some children will be set on a pathway towards problems for the rest of their lives. We need to take bullying seriously and do all we can to prevent it and help those children when it does happen.”

The British National Child Development Study includes data on all children born in England, Scotland and Wales during one week in 1958.

A team at King’s College London examined data on 7,771 children whose parents provided information on their child’s bullying when they were aged seven and 11.

More than one in four had been bullied occasionally and around one in seven frequently.

They then underwent several tests throughout their lives and gave feedback on their own health.

At age 50 they were less likely to have qualifications, less likely to live with a spouse or partner and have less social support.

Those who had been bullied had lower scores on a word memory test designed to measure cognitive IQ even when their childhood intelligence levels were taken into account.

Prof Arseneault said: “Previous studies have shown that bullying really gets under the skin and affects the biology at a cellular level. The word recall test indicates bullying victims were showing signs of early ageing. We are conducting further research to push this finding further.”

It was also found people who were bullied as children were more likely to report that they had poor health.

The study said that due to the techniques used to measure mental and physical health it is likely their findings are an underestimate of the long-term effects of bullying.

Dr Ryu Takizawa, lead author of the paper from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, says: “Our study shows that the effects of bullying are still visible nearly four decades later.

“The impact of bullying is persistent and pervasive, with health, social and economic consequences lasting well into adulthood.”

The researchers said in the American Journal of Psychiatry that bullying may trigger a cycle of victimisation that lasts a lifetime.

Barbara Macintosh, of the Mental Health Foundation and the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, said we know what can help children but it is not happening in practice.

She said: “This is a shocking report, it shows how really serious the effects of bullying are It is so unnecessary for adults to be suffering in their 50s from events in school.

“We hope this will be a catalyst to spur action.

“We would like to see all schools and children’s organisations have a much clearer and more systematic approach to dealing with bullying.”

Prof Dieter Wolke, Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Warwick Department of Psychology, this was an important study which should be taken seriously by schools, communities and the health service.

He said: “By the time a child turns 18 they will have spent many more hours with peers than with their parents yet peers are often overlooked when someone is in distress, they are always asked about their relationship with their parents.

“Children don’t dress like their parents or listen to the same music as them – their peers are a much more important influence than has been realised. It is a terrible thing to be excluded by your peers.”

He said parents should be alert to bullying between siblings as this often translates to school and not be too harsh in their parenting or to overprotective as this discourages children from reporting bullying.

Health professionals must also be alert to physical signs of distress that could have their roots in bullying, such as persistent headaches or stomachaches which children often report when they are anxious.

He said: “Parents should always talk to their child before they go running to the school. And help your child make friends, let them have sleepovers and things like that, because having friends protects against victimisation.”

Emma-Jane Cross, chief executive and founder of BeatBullying, said: “With current generations facing even greater threats from cyberbullying and trolling than those in the study, we can only assume that the consequences of bullying could be even more damaging for future generations.

“We need an urgent review of how bullying and cyberbullying is tackled in this country led by an anti-bullying tsar – covering the role of industry, schools and Government, and ensuring that children who are bullied receive the counselling support they desperately need.”

School pupils trolling teachers with ‘vile’ abuse on Facebook and Twitter. [The Telegraph, by Graeme Paton, 21/04/14]

Teachers are facing “vile” abuse from children as young as seven on social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Instagram, according to research.

Figures show that more than a fifth of teachers have been the victim of “cyberbullying” from pupils and even their parents in the last year.

The study showed social media was being used to make offensive remarks about teachers’ personal appearance, classroom performance and sexuality, with websites also used to circulate malicious claims about alleged inappropriate behaviour and drunkenness.

In one case, pupils set up a bogus Facebook account in a teacher’s name, saying: “I will rape every Year 8 pupil who comes to the school.”

Other pupils found a picture of an unconscious drunk who resembled a particular teacher – then posted it on Twitter and distributed it to other children.

Mother urges sites to name cyber-bullies. [Independent.ie, by Majella O’Sullivan, 24/04/14]

The mother of a teenager who took his own life wants social media sites to be obliged to provide gardai with information that will identify people who post abusive messages.

Elaine Hughes says that although the garda investigation into her son’s death has closed, she feels it cannot be truly concluded until the people who “bullied” her son on Facebook have been held to account.

Ms Hughes’ son Darren Hughes Gibson (17) died in August 2012 in Balbriggan and although she has been able to access his Facebook page, the coroner only saw the abusive messages he had been subjected to days before his inquest in March.

She has been in touch with other families who lost a child through suicide and who claimed they had been bullied on social media prior to their deaths.

Dutch police this week arrested a man they believe targeted the Canadian teen, Amanda Todd, prior to her death in 2012.

Since her suicide, anti-cyber-bullying legislation has been passed in Canada.

“On the day Darren was found we started to hear the rumours but unfortunately most of them turned out to be true,” Ms Hughes told the Herald.

She said her son had received sinister posts from people on Facebook threatening to break his legs or hurt members of his family.

“Family was everything to Darren,” she said.

She said she had no idea at the time this had been going on and has warned parents to be vigilant about what their children get up to on social media.

“I feel social media sites need to be taken more seriously. It’s every day of every week we hear that someone is missing and they’re getting younger and younger,” Ms Hughes said.

She said Darren’s three younger siblings had been left devastated by his death and although it will be two years this August, there are constant reminders about the older brother they lost.

“You can’t just ban them from going on social media sites either. With phones and everything they will find a way if they want to get on it.

“I think these sites should be legally obliged to share this information,” she said.

Bully 4u have been appointed by The Western Trust in Northern Ireland to provide training on –’Bullying and Self Harm’

Bully 4u have been appointed by The Western Trust in Northern Ireland to provide training on –’Bullying and Self Harm’

for the following categories of western trust staff;

Social work and Social care staff from CAMHS, ASD Team, Children’s Disability Programmes and open to other staff in family and childcare: Gateway, FIS, LAC, Adoption and Fostering, Residential, 16 Plus etc.

Bullying leaves scars into middle age. [The Washington Post, by Lenny Bernstein, 21/04/2014]

Children who are bullied continue to suffer the psychological impacts decades later, experiencing increased risk of depression, anxiety and suicide in tests given in mid-life, according to a new study by British researchers.

Being bullied at the age of 7 and 11 also was associated with personal feelings of poor general health at age 23 and 50, and with poor cognitive functioning at age 50, according to the study in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Bullied children did not, however, show higher rates of alcohol dependence in mid-life.

“Being bullied in childhood retains associations with poor mental, physical and cognitive health outcomes at least to middle adulthood, 40 years after exposure,” the researchers, led by Ryu Takizawa, a Newton International Fellow, wrote. “The effects were small but similar to those of other forms of childhood hardship.”

The effects of bullying on the mental health of children and adolescents have become well known, especially in the light of mass casualty violence, attributed to bullied teens, such as the pair who carried out the Columbine massacre. But the authors said they knew of no other study that looked at effects beyond early adulthood.

They used surveys conducted over 50 years, looking at children who said they were bullied occasionally or frequently at 7 and 11, and comparing the impact at ages 23, 45 and 50. They found that 28 percent of the 7,771 people in the study said they were occasionally bullied and 15 percent had been frequently bullied.

Bullying victims most often were male and had parents in manual jobs who were not highly involved in their lives. Often they were in public care, or cared for by people other than their parents. Bullied children were more likely to be unemployed and to feel socially isolated.

They raised the possibility that “bullying victimization generates further abuse from peers or adults, forming the first stage in a cycle of victimization that perpetuates itself over time and across situations.”

UK Teachers Report Being Bullied Online. [redOrbit.com, by Brett Smith, 21/04/14]

Cyber Bullying has become a hot topic in recent years and a new British-based survey revealed that teachers are not immune from Internet hostilities.

In its second annual survey, the UK’s largest teachers’ union found 21 percent of respondents reported seeing unsavory comments written about them on social networking sites and of those, 64 percent were from students, 27 percent were from parents and nine percent by both students and parents.

“Technology has transformed the working and social lives of many teachers and enhanced the learning experiences of pupils,” said Chris Keates , General Secretary of the NASUWT, in a press release . “However, it is clear that steps need to be taken to protect teachers from the abuse of social media by pupils and parents.”

Survey respondents said most disparaging comments revolved around their appearance, ability and sexuality. According to those teachers getting comments from pupils, 47 percent saw insulting comments and 50 percent had a remark made concerning their effectiveness as a teacher. Over one fourth saw videos or photos posted of them that had been taken without consent.

The NASUWT reported that teacher abuse included a student-started Facebook page that claimed a teacher wanted to kill him and a parent commenting online: “My son will fail now because of you.”

Other examples of abuse included fake Facebook profiles set up with sexual comments, including one page that had the ‘teacher’ posting, “I will rape every Year 8 pupil who comes to the school.”

“Teachers are often traumatized by the attacks made on them through social media,” Keates said. “Some have lost their confidence to teach once they see foul and personal remarks made by pupils in their classes and have left the profession.”

“Others have been so disturbed by the comments that their health has been affected,” she said.

Nearly 60 percent of teachers failed to report mistreatment from students to their supervisor or law enforcement officials. Almost two thirds said they did not file a report because they didn’t believe that anything might be done, 21 percent did not believe it would be given serious attention, nine percent were too uncomfortable and six percent had prior documented incidents that had not been addressed.

When teachers managed to report mistreatment to their supervisor, 40 percent said that measures were not taken towards pupils and 55 percent said action was not taken towards parents.

“Great strides had been made by the previous government, working in partnership with the NASUWT and other teacher unions and social media providers, in seeking to address this problem,” Keates said. “Comprehensive guidance had been produced about social media and internet safety which promoted good practice for schools on how to protect staff, and indeed pupils, from abuse.”

“Schools need policies which prevent abuse and identify sanctions which will be taken against parents and pupils who abuse staff in this way,” she added. “Schools should also be supporting staff in securing the removal of the offensive material from social media sites and encouraging the staff concerned to go to the police.”



Warning as social media nets children and parents. [The West Australian, by Rhianna King, 23/04/14]

A 13-year-old girl is left humiliated after a picture intended for her former boyfriend is circulated among her peers, a teenage boy faces questions from police after being caught with the photo and two sets of parents are bewildered that this could happen under their noses.

It’s an all-too-regular situation confronting schools and parents as more WA children – some as young as 11 or 12 – become involved in “sexting”.

Perth cyber safety expert Robyn Rishani, founder of Your Kids Online and who has spent the past three years visiting WA schools, said despite children as young as eight or nine having smartphones, many families remained oblivious to the risks.

“You wouldn’t let a child go to a casino or adult shop or pub but we’re letting them chat to strangers online,” Ms Rishani said.

Sexting – the consensual sharing of intimate images between children of a similar age – has become part of life for teens amid the rise of apps such as Kik Messenger and Snapchat.

“At one school I visited, a 15-year-old girl sent a sext to her boyfriend and it ended up on a porn site,” Ms Rishani said.

“Pictures can end up anywhere, and it can be devastating. Most kids are pretty smart and they aren’t all at risk, but it only takes a little bit of loneliness and curiosity and intrigue to see what’s out there.”

During her school visits, Ms Rishani warns students that their online footprint can haunt them throughout their adult lives. “Teens don’t think in the spur of the moment – they might send a picture to someone and before you know it, it’s all over the place,” she said.

“It can result in cyber bullying and destroy reputations. With a lot of these apps, there is very little privacy.”

Ms Rishani also warns students that they could end up dealing with police, or even the courts, for sending or receiving illicit images.

A WA Police spokeswoman said police tried to deal with the issue by alternative methods, such as cautioning and education, and no juveniles had been charged for sexting.

Ms Rishani will host a parenting seminar at Perth Zoo next month where she will urge parents to be cautious in posting images of their children on social media.

“A lot of parents don’t understand the full extent of how social media and the internet works, and this naivety can get them and their children into trouble,” she said.


Cyberbullying by parents and pupils takes toll on teachers. [ The Conversation, by Noel Purdy, 21/4/2014 ].

In the research, just more than a fifth of the 7,500 teachers surveyed had comments or information posted on social networking sites relating to their role as teachers. Almost two-thirds of those comments were written by pupils, and more than a quarter by parents.

The research reveals that almost half of the insulting comments from pupils related to their performance as a teacher. And the figure was higher still for comments from parents.

The vast majority of parents made their comments on Facebook, while pupils used a wider range of sites including Facebook, Ratemyteacher, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. The survey also found that the majority of teachers did not report the incidents – in most cases because they didn’t think anything could be done or that they would not be taken seriously.

When the teachers did report bullying to their headteacher, 40% said no action was taken against the pupil responsible, while 55% said that no action was taken against the parent responsible.

Lack of protection

Despite the majority of schools having internet or social media policies, less than a third of these policies refer to the protection of staff from cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is a relatively new manifestation of the age-old scourge of bullying. It has been defined by Robert Tokunaga as: “Any behavior performed through electronic or digital media by individuals or groups that repeatedly communicates hostile or aggressive messages intended to inflict harm or discomfort on others.”

Its recent rise in schools is undoubtedly linked to the proliferation of internet-enabled devices which children and young people can now access 24/7. In 2013, Ofcom reported that 62% of 12-15-year-olds and 18% of 8-11-year-olds now owned a smartphone.

Over two-thirds of 12-15-year-olds had a social networking site profile, and the vast majority of them accessed their social networking sites every day, while one in five did so more than ten times per day. On average they spent spent 17 hours online each week.

The NASUWT research follows Andy Phippen’s 2011 survey of 377 education professionals in which 35% of respondents claimed that either they, or a colleague, had been subject to some form of online abuse. Such abuse was most likely to be from pupils (72%) or parents (26%) or other staff (12%).

It is also confirmed in a recent cross-border study I co-authored involving 143 schools in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, where one in six headteachers claimed that teachers had been victims of cyberbullying from pupils. Another 7% of headteachers claimed that teachers had been cyberbullied by parents in the past two months.

Several studies expose the threat of online bullying, the impact of which can be serious and long-lasting on children and young people. There has been much less research carried out to date on the impact of such online bullying on teachers, but Andy Phippen’s 2011 report does highlight feelings of intense frustration and isolation by teachers whose concerns have not been adequately addressed by school management.

Recent research studies have shown a rise in the incidence of cyberbullying among pupils. But one leading researcher has urged caution, describing cyberbullying as an “overrated phenomenon” compared to more traditional forms of bullying.

While acknowledging that other forms of bullying remain more common, our research found that 74% of post-primary headteachers and 33% of primary headteachers agreed or strongly agreed that cyberbullying was a growing problem in their school. An overwhelming 92% of headteachers also wanted more guidance on tackling cyberbullying, with considerable confusion emerging around their legal responsibilities.

The rise of online social networking has revolutionised how we communicate in society as a whole. Therefore it is not surprising that recent research such as the NASUWT survey shows there has been a parallel shift in communication between the home and the school.

This development is generally incredibly positive and fruitful, with many schools increasingly using their websites, social networking sites, emails and texts to communicate more effectively than ever with parents. Unfortunately, the disinhibition associated with online communication has also led to abuses.

No incident of cyberbullying is defensible. Pupils, teachers and parents alike need more education, guidance and support as we all seek to embrace the vast potential of online communication in safety.