The NSPCC (2013) report that there are a large number of children under the age of thirteen using Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social networking sites despite these networks often setting a minimum user age of 13. Safer technology expert Claire Lilley says the charity is "particularly worried about the impact of the risks on younger children". The study found that one in five children claim to have been victims of cyber-bullying and that 10% of children aged 11-16 years are targeted daily by internet ‘trolls’. An internet troll is an abusive user who anonymously frequents social networking websites, news sites, blog sites, discussion forums and gaming sites enabling them to make public comments, promote arguments, post inflammatory, inappropriate or insulting messages causing disharmony and upsetting people with the deliberate intention of provoking an emotional response.
Individuals often feel isolated and don’t know where to turn. The charity has called for a proper strategy to protect children from cyberbullying and Prime Minister David Cameron has urged operators of websites that allow cyber-bullying to show some responsibility.
The myth that headteachers can do nothing about cyber-bullying, which takes place outside the confines of the school arena, is simply not true. In fact, The Education and Inspectors Act 2006 gives headteachers the power to regulate the conduct of pupils when they are off school premises. As long as the school’s behaviour policy makes it clear that disciplinary sanctions may be imposed even in relation to conduct which takes place outside of school. This enables headteachers to respond to actual or perceived abuse. There is no reason why the headteachers cannot take action against a pupil who goes online using a home computer, mobile phone or tablet to bully other pupils or staff members.