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Nearly 30% of children in Kent experience online bullying, Police and Crime Commissioner survey reveals

The number of children in Kent who have experienced cyber bulling has increased by more than 10% in five years, a new survey has suggested.

The rise of online abuse suffered by youngsters across the county was revealed in a report commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Kent Police, Matthew Scott.

A review of the data, published this week, found that of the 4,400 children who took part in the survey, 29% have been abused online, up from 18% five years ago, while 26% have been bullied on their way to or from school.

In addition to the increase in cyberbullying there has been a 15% more young people own a mobile phone.

The survey also found that almost 11% admitted to cyber bullying themselves.

Mr Scott said: “The results of this survey show how important it is to educate young people about online safety and what constitutes healthy relationships and appropriate behaviour.

“Of course, we can all fall prey to online scammers, but young people’s lives are dominated by apps and social media and the industry grows and changes all time.

Matthew Scott, Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner
Matthew Scott, Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner

“We must arm them with the tools they need to protect themselves.

“We also know that bullying, harassment and abuse can have very severe consequences for young people, and often they’re too afraid or embarrassed to talk about it to parents, friends or teachers.”

Children were also asked if they were ever bullied, picked on or harassed on their way to or from school and more than a quarter said they had been.

Only just over half of those who reported being bullied in person or online said they had told a parent or guardian about the abuse with more than a fifth of respondents admitting they had told no one.

Where most of those surveyed seemed to agree was that the cyberbullying was unlikely to completely change their online behaviour, with 90% of the children saying they still used the app they had been targeted via.

“We must arm them with the tools they need to protect themselves...”

58% of the child participants confessed that their parents were not aware of everything they got up to online.

In response to the results of the questionnaire, the PCC is expanding its Online Harm and Healthy Relationship school programme.

These sessions offer interactive lessons which teach young people about appropriate behaviour and provides them with advice as to what to do if they’ve experienced abuse.

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