Our Voice: Cyber bullying and Triple R

Our Voice: Cyber bullying and Triple R

National Anti Bullying week is nearly with us, and in preparation for this, Unique Voice have been busy preparing two shows for primary and secondary school pupils in Bristol that form part of the Unique Voice Triple R anti-bullying programme. Trailers and extracts from Repeat After Me & Influenced were shown as part of the North Bristol multi agency meeting last week, which leads me to reflect upon how bullying has changed and developed in recent years.

I think it safe to say that the majority of us will have experienced bullying during our school years, some of us as perpetrators, others as victims whilst some see the situation from a distance, observing the experiences of others. But, as difficult as that may have been, there came the end of the school day, where those caught up in the situation could hopefully retreat to safety and peace.  Now on the other hand, our technology crazed world has introduced an added threat- cyberbullying.   We’ve all heard of various celebrities being hounded online, some receiving death threats, others receiving insult after insult over twitter for an act or photograph which warranted no such response, but we need to address that this problem is also occurring much closer to home. Young people are being hounded or ridiculed via texts or social media sites by their peers every minute of the day; rumours run riot on BBM, and unflattering photos or cruel status updates thrive on Facebook newsfeeds.

Both Influenced and Repeat After Me work to explore the devastating effects this form of bullying can have on young people. Creating a seemingly inescapable battleground, the misuse of social media and networking sites are destroying the confidence and self-esteem of teens. It would seem not even children are safe from this development; having taught hundreds of primary school children in years 5 and 6 this term, it would seem around 85% of these 9/10 year olds are already using Facebook or other social media and networking sites to communicate with people.

Perhaps the biggest problem with cyber bullying is that it’s easy. If anything, it’s a cowardly tool used to intimidate and threaten others from behind the safety of a screen. Upon working with a selection of students at Merchant’s Academy last year one girl explained that ‘people feel they can say more over Facebook ‘cause they’re not face to face with them’.The other issue that follows is how quickly one post or comment can ripple out and cause huge levels of disruption or upset both among the victim and their peers. Whether we want to admit it or not, we need to acknowledge that we are living in the cyber generation, and that young people especially are showing an increasing obsession with social networking. Rumours, taunts and threats are literally at these children’s fingertips, and perhaps most frightening is the number of people who, whilst not having started any offensive discussions, will share and spread the information they read online.

It’s crucial that we recognise cyberbullying as a problem in schools; perhaps it’s less subtle to the outside eye than physical fighting, or more secretive than verbal abuse, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tackle it head on. One of the reasons I’m so proud to work for Unique Voice is that the company meets young people at their level. Extensive research has helped to make Repeat After Me and Influenced undeniably relevant to its audience. Real situations and scenarios from local schools have been integrated into these shows in order to allow us to present them back to these young people in order to challenge them to find a way to prevent them recurring. Without fighting it head on this issue will not disappear- if anything it looks set to evolve and grow, unless we work with schools and those experiencing or initiating it first hand to stamp it out.


Sarah Fullagar

 Useful Links

Click Here to watch our Triple R: Recognise, Report, Resolve  Anti-bullying programme trailer

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