Schools Failing on Cyber Bullying

According to the chairman of the Commons education committee, schools in England are failing in their efforts to teach children about the dangers of online abuse and trolling.

Earlier this year, the Department for Education issued a new statutory guidance for all schools and colleges in England on how to keep children safe.

The government has taken measures to tackle online abuse, yet it continues to be a problem. Graham Stuart's committee is looking into whether the guidance is adequate.

Back in January Isabella Sorley and John Nimmo, both from Tyneside, were jailed for sending abusive messages on Twitter to feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez.

Since her imprisonment, Sorley went to visit Dyke House College with BBC Radio Five Live to talk to pupils about the dangers of getting caught up in online abuse.

Sorley, 27 explained to pupils that she sent tweets to Ms Criado-Perez to go "kill herself" after a heavy night of drinking, but said that was no excuse.

Sorley said: "There's banter and then there's bullying, and even bullying doesn't cover what I did. I went to the extreme - it was absolutely disgusting."

She said to the students: "Ultimately I'm here to warn you that anyone can land in prison. It's not just going to be the stereotypical person from a broken home. I do have a degree, I have 13 GCSEs, so please just be careful what you do put on social media because what you write down, there's always a record.

"Even if you delete it, someone might have retweeted it or taken a screenshot of it. You can always be traced back and ultimately it can land you in a lot of trouble.

"I will always be labelled a troll. However, I had never done anything like this before and I will never do it again. My aim is hopefully that something good can come out of what happened to me."

The victim of Sorley's attacks, Ms Criado-Perez said: "I was terrified, I lost about a stone in about a week. I still get abuse on a daily basis and I often feel the people sending it to me just aren't aware that I'm a human being and I don't think they'd say it to me if they could see my face and could see my reaction.

"Young people need to have these things explained to them. We're all getting used to social media and I think when you're young you're less likely to really think about long-term consequences, and be able to empathise fully with other people because you're still learning about yourself.

"Obviously education on social media has a role to play, the police have a role to play and social media companies have a role to play. But most important is that we tackle a society where we are bringing up children to hate women."

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