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9 February 2014, 06:00 | Updated: 9 February 2014, 06:17
A new study has found 9 out of 10 young people in Suffolk have seen websites or Facebook pages specifically set up to bully someone because they might be gay.
The annual ‘Suffolk Cybersurvey’ of 1685 young people, conducted to monitor trends in abusive online activity, also found that over half (53%) of young people have experienced rude or aggressive messages and had been sent sexual jokes. The survey found that not all young people consider these as cyber bullying.
The results of the survey were announced at a major e-safety conference in Ipswich today. The event, organised by Suffolk County Council’s e-Safer Suffolk team, saw 80 professionals from across the county who work with vulnerable children and adults come together to hear from industry-leading e-safety and sexual exploitation experts.
The conference was organised to highlight issues relating to the sexualisation of children, cyberbullying, cyber-addiction and why vulnerable young people and vulnerable adults are increasingly attracted to the internet.
This is part of our ongoing work to protect vulnerable people from harm and educate people working with those most likely to be abused.
The 2013 survey found that:
1 in 5 young people have been bullied online, up 1% compared to 2012 and with the most notable increases in the 12-13 and 14-15 year old age ranges.
22% of young people say they had been blackmailed or threatened over private photos or webcam images.
More young people feel they can report being bullied to someone, up 8% to 70%.But 10% of young people who had been bullied online found it got worse after reporting it to an adult.
Schools are teaching e-safety but parents are struggling to keep up. Fewer young people (58%) said they’d learnt about e-safety from their parents. In 2011, 63% said their mother or father had taught them how to keep safe.
Access to the internet is increasing rapidly. 73% of Suffolk young people now own a smartphone and in the last 12 months, tablet ownership has rocketed from 43% to 67%.
Councillor Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s deputy cabinet member for education, skills and young people, said:
"The harm caused by online abuse, exploitation and grooming is a serious concern and the dangers are well recognised in Suffolk.
"That is why e-safety awareness training is regularly delivered in schools and to staff in organisations that work with vulnerable young people and adults.
"Professionals from across Suffolk who work with vulnerable children and adults came together in Ipswich today to hear from industry-leading e-safety and sexual exploitation experts. This is part of our ongoing work to educate vulnerable people and protect them from harm."
Dr Emma Bond, senior lecturer in childhood and youth studies at University Campus Suffolk, spoke at the conference. She said:
“It is increasingly important to talk to children and parents about the risks online. Recent technological advances have transformed how children access the internet and the social media they use.
“Teachers and parents are often unaware of the apps children are using, the sites they are visiting and who they are communicating with.
“The boundary between offline and online are blurred but the messages about the risks need to be clear.”