Homophobic and racist cyber bullying among children has trebled since 2015, a new survey has revealed.
Over the same period the proportion of racist bullying online rose from four to 13 per cent, according to research by young people’s consultancy and internet industry body Internet Matters, from their study of around 15,000 pupils which began last year.
Researchers also found that the rise in racist and homophobic abuse comes as online bullying in general has remained stable. When surveyed in 2015 and again in 2019, around a fifth of children said they had been bullied online.
But more young victims are likely to keep online bullying a secret and not seek help, the survey found. More than a third (35 per cent) of young people said they kept online abuse to themselves, compared to 27 per cent in 2015.
“When a young person is online in a climate of aggression and insulting comments, it can make them feel unsafe or even guilty that they cannot stop it,” said Youthworks director Adrienne Katz.
“If it is widespread, it can make it seem as though bullying and discrimination are accepted.”
It’s wonderful #AntiBullyingWeek when young people create a kinder society. https://t.co/Qs2CeCWt3I
— Adrienne Katz (@AdrienneKatz1) November 16, 2020
The findings coincide with #AntiBullyingWeek (November 16-20) and also amid concerns raised over the winding down of Government Equalities Office (GEO) funding for schools to help them tackle bullying of LGBT+ pupils.
GEO had funded school-based projects to combat LGBT+ bullying, but this ended in March this year.
Among charities concerned about the end to the LGBT+ funding is transgender organisation Mermaids, which said “LGBTQ+ young people deserve to feel safe at school so they can learn and thrive, just like everyone else”.
Stonewall added: “Without funding LGBT+ kids will be left to suffer in silence.”
A government spokesman said that the Department for Education has taken over responsibility for all anti-bullying funding.
He said: “The anti-bullying grant fund, which provided 2,250 schools across the country with materials and training, was always due to end in March 2020.
“The Department for Education will be taking forward all anti-bullying work, alongside rolling out statutory relationships education in all primary schools and relationships and sex education in all secondary schools.”