Published 5 February 2018

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Schoolchildren across Kent are being asked about their experiences of cyber-bullying, to help the Police and Crime Commissioner lobby for more to be done to help them.

Since becoming the PCC in 2016 Matthew Scott has taken a keen interest in cyber-bullying. He has visited schools, spoken to pupils about their experiences and met with representatives from social media companies.

Now, ahead of Safer Internet Day on February 6, he has created a Cyber-Bullying Survey. It has been sent to around 900 schools because Mr Scott wants to hear from as many young people as possible about the scale of the problem in our county.

Mr Scott said:

‘The first thing to say about my survey it is entirely anonymous. It does not ask for anyone’s name or contact details. No-one will know what answers anyone has put because I want young people to fill it out and to answer honestly.

‘What their answers will do is allow me to build a broader understanding of how much cyber-bullying is going on in Kent, and where, and to hear from young people themselves about what apps they are using. As adults, we might understand Facebook and Twitter but there are plenty of other apps young people are using to chat with friends and sometimes, unfortunately, to abuse each other.’

For the purposes of the PCC’s survey, cyber-bullying is being defined as bullying that takes place using electronic technology such as mobile phones, computers, tablets and games consoles. It can take place on social media, in chatrooms and forums, on websites and in online gaming environments.

Examples of cyber-bullying include sending abusive or mocking messages, circulating rumours, sharing embarrassing pictures or videos, and creating fake profiles to mock the real person.

Mr Scott said:

‘I’ve been testing some of the survey questions with our Volunteer Police Cadets and I’m grateful for their help. I’ve made the survey shorter and added a section at the end inviting young people to suggest any ideas they have about how to make the internet safer.

‘In the future I will be discussing cyber-bullying again with Government Ministers and social media companies. I want to share with them the findings of the survey and see what we can do together to tackle online abuse and harassment.’

  • Mr Scott has also put money into a series of e-safety briefings for partners, raising awareness among professionals of how they can help young people to be safer and more confident online. These have been organised by the Kent Community Safety Team.