New research to tackle online abuse

New research will be used to look at young people’s experiences of online bullying in Scotland for the first time.

The research will identify how bullying and online bullying overlap and the most effective solutions will be done in partnership with respectme, the national anti-bullying service.

This will build on respectme’s existing work with local authorities across Scotland to build confidence and capacity to tackle bullying of all forms.

Minister for Learning Dr Alasdair Allan said: “Online bullying – like all forms of abuse – is utterly unacceptable. It does however, present new challenges to the traditional ways we would recommend dealing with the situation. Whether we like it or not, many young people do not consider online insults to be the same as bullying in person and we must be clear that online abuse can be just as devastating as any other form of attack.

“Late last year when the Children’s Minister and I brought together groups working with young people and from the digital industries, it was clear that all of us are taking steps to help people stay safe online and highlight where people can turn for help.

“This research, the first of its kind in Scotland, will help us protect people from online bullying. It will help us see where there is overlap between face-to-face abuse and online attacks. Importantly, it will also give us an accurate picture of how young people and their families are affected and how we can best support them.”

Existing evidence from professionals supporting those affected by online bulling has shown that dealing with it as part of wider bullying and relationship discussions has greater impact.

Brian Donnelly, director of respectme, said: “We are delighted to be undertaking this research as part of our ongoing and successful partnership with the Scottish Government.

“This research will enable us to help parents and professionals get a clear national picture of how young people are experiencing bullying in 2014. Crucially this will support and influence effective responses that recognise relationships play out on line and face to face more than ever.”