I was interviewed recently on the back of a blog post I wrote on cyberbullying entitled Bully 4 U and the straw poll survey I conducted. The Evening Herald, a newspaper based in South West England features my interview in an article entitled: 'Tormentors who use technology'. Here's my full interview with commentary by reporter Cherie Gordon:
The traditional figure of the playground bully is a well-known sight for countless children. Over the past few years, however, a new type of bully has left the school corridors and entered the World Wide Web. Family computers have been hacked into by cyber bullies who attack their victims not face to face, but via internet chatrooms, network sites and online messaging.
"Bullying of any kind is destructive and can ruin lives, but cyber bullying may be the most insidious form," said Steve Wheeler, a senior lecturer in education and ICT. "Children can escape from the school playground bully, but they find it harder to escape from the bully who invades their home, their desktop, their mind. Cyber bullying isn't going to replace traditional bullying; it will take it to a whole new dimension."
Musing about the emergence of the cyber trend on his online blog, Mr Wheeler reports the findings of a poll he carried out, questioning other childcare professionals on the issues surrounding bullying.
"On my blog I was talking about keeping children safe on the internet," said the 52-year-old. "I asked what people thought the greatest danger for children was on social networking sites like Bebo and Facebook. There were several options to choose from including cyber bullying. The majority of those who answered – 36 per cent – thought cyber bullying was going to be the most obvious threat. It is very interesting that for over one in three it is the most important."
Bullying has always been a curse for some youngsters but now, with the internet's ability to reach into a victim's home, at any time, adults are also becoming targets. "I haven't had any experience of cyber bullying myself but I know colleagues who have," said Mr Wheeler. "I know of situations where people's careers have been virtually destroyed by it. I heard of a situation recently about a teacher in a school who experienced this. He was very respected and worked in a secondary school and the police came to arrest him. He said, 'What's the problem?' and they said two of his female colleagues claimed that he'd been sending them text messages asking them to sit in front of a webcam and take their clothes off. It emerged that two of the lads in his class had hijacked his SMS and sent these messages, just because they didn't like him. You can imagine the shock and horror and bad feelings in the staff room, even though he was innocent. Reputations can be damaged. It's quite insidious because it's anonymous."
Read more online here.