Cyber-bullying on the rise but SBC praised

Picture  Christopher Furlong                                         'Text message bullying.  A threatening text message is received on a mobile phone.  There has been a dramtic increase in text crime.
Picture Christopher Furlong 'Text message bullying. A threatening text message is received on a mobile phone. There has been a dramtic increase in text crime.
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Anti-bullying groups have praised Scottish Borders Council for its efforts in tackling the issue after a reported 420 per cent rise in cyber-bullying.

It was Radio Borders this week which revealed the remarkable rise in such cases in the past year in Borders schools, quoting the chair of Broughton Primary School Parent Council as saying the figure was “hugely alarming”.

SBC confirmed the rise, but with the actual number of incidents involved being just five in 2012/13, going up to 26 in 2013/14.

And it has been pointed out that the rise could be down to the award-winning anti-bullying strategy recently introduced by the local authority, which has seen better recording of incidents.

Brian Donnelly, director of the Scotland-wide anti-bullying organisation, Respect Me, was also keen to stress the quality of the work undertaken by SBC to stamp out bullying.

He said: “The Borders’ new anti- bullying strategy is exceptionally good and although this is a rise, it can still be very small actual numbers involved,

“The new strategy from the council could also be making people more aware and more prepared to come forward and report incidents.”

And a spokesperson for the Scottish Parent Teacher Council also praised the council, saying: “SBC has worked very hard with young people to come up with an anti-bullying strategy.

“And the great thing was the council involved young people in the process of creating the strategy, rather than just coming up with something itself.

“Any sort of bullying is a problem and cyber-bullying is just a different form of that. But it’s the way youngsters communicate with each other these days and many adults are not fully aware of the extent of it.”

SBC’s anti-bullying strategy is called ‘Respectful Relationships’ and a spokesman told us its implementation in the last 18 months has resulted in more consistent recording of all incidents, of which cyber-bullying is now an explicit measure.

Scottish Borders councillor Sandy Aitchison, executive member for education, added: “Young people should be able to enjoy their lives free from this nastiness. The numbers may be few, but for that few life can be difficult and horrible.”