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Schoolchildren 'need more support in dealing with cyberbullying'

24/07/2017 Joanna

More needs to be done to help schoolchildren who are victims of cyberbullying, the children's commissioner for England has argued.

Anne Longfield has called for the government to establish an ombudsman to liaise between social media companies and children who are being bullied, after research revealed the platforms are making children anxious.

A study by Ditch the Label, an anti-bullying charity, showed over a third (35 per cent) feel their confidence is directly linked to the number of friends or followers they have on social media, and 40 per cent said not getting any 'likes' for their selfies makes them feel sad.

Image-sharing social app Instagram was found to be the most common platform for cyberbullying, with seven per cent of the children questioned saying they had received malicious comments on the platform, compared to six per cent on Facebook and five per cent on Snapchat.

Mrs Longfield said there is also a need for "compulsory digital citizenship classes" in schools, to help educate children about behaving responsibly online, the BBC reports.

Ditch the Label surveyed more than 10,000 young people aged between 12 and 20 for the study, and found almost 70 per cent admitted to being abusive online. A third said they were in fear of cyberbullying and chief executive of the charity Liam Hackett says the issue is "one of the biggest challenges facing young people".

"Not only is the internet redefining the climate of bullying, but also it is having clear impacts upon the identity, behaviours and personality of its young users," he added.

Responding to the research, Instagram's Michelle Napchan said the app has a "zero tolerance" approach to bullying, and has "invested heavily in new technology" such as machine learning to make the app a safe place.

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