Online bullying a problem for school pupils and teachers

Teenage Girl Victim Of Bullying By Text MessagingModern life has more than its fair share of issues that can give rise to stress and anxiety but the rise of online bullying has made coping with life so much harder and is cause for concern.

A particular worry is the rapid growth of online bullying of school children with the NSPCC’s helpline reporting that the number of children and young people needing counselling about online bullying has increased by 88% over five years.

The BBC reported that the helpline service had counselled more than 4,500 children in the past year – compared to about 2,400 in 2011-12. The total number suffering online abuse is thought to be far higher and some children as young as seven told Childline how they were tormented, abused and scared to go to school.

Commenting on the statistics, Childline president Dame Esther Rantzen said the figures should be a wake-up call.

“Bullying can wreck young people’s lives, especially now that the bullies don’t stop at the school gates,” she said. “Cyber-bullying can follow them home until it becomes a persecution they cannot escape.”

The charity said online trolls caused misery and humiliation for thousands of children and recommended that adults, parents and teachers, intervene to protect them.

Rantzen added: “We have learned over the years from Childline callers that bullying does not stop on its own, left alone it gets worse. Schools must take this problem seriously, and above all children must ask for help.”

Another worrying report recently released shows that teachers, too, are suffering from online abuse and bullying from parents.

More than half of the 1,188 head teachers who replied to a survey by schools management service The Key say parents’ online behaviour is a problem and 15% say they have themselves suffered from negative behaviour.

One teacher told the BBC: “Before I started treatment for depression and anxiety, I felt paranoid and intimidated. It feels as if people are ganging up on you. A parent might make a simple comment and others might add comments without understanding the context. It gets out of hand and misinterpreted. I can’t take the page down because it is not run by me and I don’t feel I am in a position to defend myself.”

Another primary head who responded to the online survey, said social media meant that ‘negative and inaccurate comments that would never be said face-to face are often posted by parents online’.

The NASUWT teachers’ union says the online bullying of teachers by pupils and parents seems to be a growing trend.

John Collier, head of teacher training at Britannia Teaching School Alliance in the West Midlands, told the BBC problems were happening ‘more than you think’.

He advised new teachers to be very careful with their social media privacy settings and to avoid accepting friend requests from pupils, past pupils or even parents.

“If you are visible you are vulnerable not only to parents being able to contact you online, but the pupils themselves.”

The stress, anxiety and even depression caused by bullying and online harassment can be debilitating and GPs often prescribe medication or talking therapies to counter this.

One successful way to deal with stress and anxiety is clinical hypnotherapy and the National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH) has more than 1,800 qualified and highly-trained therapists across the UK who have experience in this field.

The NCH says: “While some people manage, more and more people are showing signs of over-anxiety, which leads to stress, which can make a significant impact on the quality of life and wellbeing.”

People can suffer from a wide variety of distressing feelings such as panic attacks, anxiety, jealousy, guilt, anger or inadequacy. Whatever the problem feeling, clinical hypnotherapy can deal with it more specifically than any drug – and without harmful side effects.

By working with the subconscious mind, while in a trance, the hypnotherapist can help bring about changes that help people deal with stressful situations like bullying.

Even during a session when under hypnosis, the client is always in control and, says the NCH, when ‘you realise that you are the one in control, when you decide how deeply into hypnosis you wish to go, then you become aware of what hypnosis is”.

The national body says that a hypnotherapist is a guide who helps the client on a journey, but the change can only by the client themselves.

“Often the realisation that you are in control, and that you can make change yourself is very empowering.”