Children as young as nine are struggling with online bullies, according to Childline.
Staff at the Birmingham helpline are dealing with 47 per cent more calls about cyber-bullying than they were five years ago.
And it’s girls and 12 to 15 year-olds who are calling the most to talk about online troubles, particularly on social media.
Name-calling, rumour spreading, blackmail and even death threats are just some of the ways young people have told counsellors they are being tormented.
One boy told Childline: “I’m being bullied on social media by people who call me fat and ugly. I can’t block them because then they’ll just bully me even more at school.
“I don’t want to talk to my teachers about it, I just feel like giving up. I’ve been self-harming to cope but I just want to stop feeling this way.”
The Birmingham Mail has launched a campaign with the NSPCC to try to ensure Childline can be there for ALL young people who call in need of support and advice.
Last week, we revealed that one in four children and teenagers are unable to get through to the service due to lack of resources.
Our Light Up Christmas for Children campaign aims to rectify that by raising money to support more counsellors and volunteer to be there when kids need them.
A text donation for as little as £4 (by texting ‘NSPCC 4’ to 70030) can pay for a counsellor’s call – and it may just save a child’s life.
Birmingham Childline delivered more than 600 counselling sessions about online bullying in 2016/17, up from 411 in 2011/ 12.
The 24/7 nature of social media and the feeling they are unable to escape the bullies, even at home, can leave young people struggling with low self-esteem, depression, self-harming and suicidal thoughts.
As part of Anti-Bullying Week, happening this week, the NSPCC is calling on the Government to draw up a rulebook enshrined in law to require all social media sites to introduce cyber-bullying alerts which flag up bullying behaviour to moderators and send notifications to young people being targeted together with strict privacy settings by default and clear, easy to understand reporting processes.
Dame Esther Rantzen, founder of Childline, said: “Young people these days rely upon their mobile phones and social media to keep in touch with their friends, but inevitably that makes it easier for bullies to pursue their victims relentlessly.
“Whether bullying occurs online or in person it can have a devastating impact on a young person, destroying their confidence and leaving them isolated and vulnerable.
“Every year as a nation we lose precious young lives because bullying has made children and teenagers feel that life is not worth living.
“Childline wants to remind young people that they are not alone.
“We are here for them day and night, offering confidential help and advice on effective ways to beat the bullies.”