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Over the next year, The Royal Foundation Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying will bring together industry partners and a group of advisors from the sector to develop an industry-wide response to the online bullying of young people, with a focus on 12-14 year olds. Supported by The Royal Foundation, the Duke of Cambridge has asked technology entrepreneur Brent Hoberman CBE to chair this ambitious new project.

A spokesman for The Duke of Cambridge said:
“This is an issue that The Duke feels strongly about. He knows that social media and other technologies are creating significant positive opportunities for millions of young people. But as a parent, he knows that many people worry about how to protect their children from the new avenues for bullying that technology is creating. He hopes the taskforce can help the industry share the best practice that is emerging across the sector and put in place new standards so that the internet remains something young people and their parents can embrace with confidence.”

Cyberbullying can have a detrimental effect on the mental health of children and young people. The effect of technology means the impact of bullying is instantly multiplied through social networks, and can feel harder for young people to escape.

Studies suggest that some 35% of 11-17 year olds have experienced some form of cyberbullying during their lives, and 40% have witnessed cyberbullying within a social network they use.

While most social platforms and service providers do have systems in place for reporting or removing abusive content, there is no common industry standard or commitment to tackle the issue, nor is there an existing single source of information for users on how to address it.

The taskforce will take existing models of good practice for reporting abusive content on individual networks and develop a set of commitments for the industry to adopt and collectively tackle the issue. The taskforce will look at developing a single up-to-date resource providing practical support, advice and information for those affected by cyberbullying. It will also work to help parents and adults to better understand the issue, and give them the confidence to find appropriate help and resources to support children affected by cyberbullying.

Full membership of the taskforce will be announced soon, but will include leading figures from technology companies and internet service providers, and will be supported by a panel of young people aged 11-15, to ensure it remains engaged in current online trends.

This taskforce will bring together the commitment, talent and expertise of the technology industry to tackle cyberbullying and the terrible effect it has on children. The future of our children is inextricably linked with the internet. It is our responsibility to ensure that they grow up confident and happy online so that they can make the most of the extraordinary potential it offers.

Brent Hoberman, CBE