Facebook helps children to fight cyberbullying in UK

Facebook has announced a one million pound initiative to fund young “digital safety ambassadors” in secondary schools across Britain to help tackle cyberbullying and other forms of online harassment.

The US social media giant has partnered with Childnet International and the Diana Award to train 4,500 mentors in schools up and down the country in countering cyberbulling, grooming, and other online dangers.

Facebook’s head of global safety policy Antigone Davis said the move is a continuation of Facebook’s online safety commitments, which the firm now wants to take offline into the real world. She told Business Insider:

“We’ve heard from kids that actually three out of four of them would prefer to talk to somebody their own age about these issues, so giving young people the skills they need to be that kind of a mentor is really important to us.”

Children that are targeted by cyberbullying often feel helpless, as the bullies attack them through social media alongside other forms of private communication like email, texts, and WhatsApp – leaving them no place to escape. Parents and teachers, less well versed in digital communications tools, often do not understand the impact such actions can have on victims, so the initiative to have school-age mentors should prove an invaluable tool to help people speak out.

The NSPCC welcomed Facebook’s plan as a move in the right direction, but has called on the government to draw up universal safety standards for protect children from harassment online. Peter Wanless, chief executive of NSPCC said:

“We’ve seen time and time again social media sites allowing violent, abusive or illegal content to appear unchecked on their sites, and in the very worst cases children have died after being targeted by predators or seeing self-harm films posted online

“Enough is enough. Government must urgently bring in safe accounts, groomer alerts and specially trained child safety moderators as a bare minimum to protect our children. And websites who fail to meet these standards should be sanctioned and fined.”

Facebook, along with other social networks like Twitter and Snapchat, are still coming to terms with the fact that by offering messaging apps and publishing platforms they play a central role in how young people communicate with each other. They have all made billions of dollars by leveraging their importance, but now they have to step up and show that they are responsible gatekeepers. It is a new world a they hold the keys.

Photograph by Geralt

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