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Cyberbullying Written Answer, 01/03/12 [S]

Written Answer given in response to Lewis Macdonald's (Lab) question asking the Scottish Executive what it is doing to support victims of cyberbullying; whether it has had discussions with organisations regarding cyberbullying in the last five years and, if so, what organisations; what it is doing to prevent cyberbullying; what discussions it has had with the UK Government in the last five years regarding the prevention of cyberbullying; and what it is doing to assist schools in protecting pupils from cyberbullying.

The Minister for Learning, Alasdair Allan, replied that the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended) places a duty on education authorities to identify, meet and provide for the additional support needs of all children for whose school education they are responsible, and to tailor provision according to the child’s individual needs. This includes children whose additional support needs relate to incidents of bullying. In addition, the Scottish Government provides funding to Childline to provide the bullying helpline which provides confidential advice, information and support to children and young people affected by any type of bullying.

The Scottish Anti-Bullying Steering Group is co-ordinated by the Scottish Government and meets three to four times per year. The group aims is to steer, co-ordinate and promote developments in anti-bullying work, including cyberbullying. Through its membership of the United Kingdom Council for Child Internet Safety, the Scottish Government has also had discussions with internet organisations, including representatives from social network providers, about cyberbullying.

The Scottish Government funds the national anti-bullying service, Respectme, that works with organisations across Scotland, including schools and local authorities, to give them the practical skills and confidence to deal with any bullying behaviour including cyberbullying. Respectme offers free training at events across Scotland for any adult who has a role to play in the lives of children and young people, including a training programme on cyberbullying.

Online safety is monitored by the Scottish Government-led Stakeholder Group on Child Internet Safety. The group works with Respectme, to support those working in schools, local authorities and children’s services to build capacity to prevent and tackle bullying effectively, including cyberbullying, through training, policy development and making publications and information available through their website.

In partnership with the Scottish Anti-Bullying Steering Group, the Scottish Government published “A National Approach to Anti-Bullying for Scotland’s Children and Young People” in November 2010. The purpose is to communicate and promote a common vision and aims, and to make sure that work across all agencies is consistently and coherently contributing to a holistic approach to all types of anti-bullying work in Scotland.

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety was established in September of 2008 and brings together over 170 organisations and individuals from government, industry, law enforcement, academia and charities – including groups representing parents and children. Through its membership of the United Kingdom Council for Child Internet Safety, the Scottish Government has had discussions with internet organisations, including representatives from social network providers, about cyberbullying. The Scottish Government sits on the executive board of UKCCIS which is responsible for identifying priority areas of work and setting strategic direction. The executive board meets every six weeks.

To support implementation of Curriculum for Excellence, Education Scotland provides information to teachers, parents and young people on all aspects of internet safety and responsible use.

For the full answer to this and other questions see the Scottish Parliament Written Answer Report 1 March 2012 which is available from the Scottish Parliament website.

Further Information

Scottish Parliament Written Answer Report 1 March 2012