Surrey’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

In a social state

A recent international study has found that head teachers in England are more likely to face problems with pupils bullying online and misusing social media than in any other developed country.
The OECD think tank reported the experiences of more than 250,000 teachers in 48 industrialised countries and regions. The results have shown there appear to be particular problems with cyber-bullying in English schools (schools in Scotland, Ireland and Wales were not part of the survey). The study, carried out every five years, looked at the working lives of teachers around the world. It indicated an increase in bullying in English schools - driven by online bullying and harassment and problems caused by social media.

Of England heads surveyed:
• 14% faced problems each week caused by “hurtful” material posted about pupils, compared with an international average of 2%, with the United States having the next highest proportion – 10%

• 27% faced problems each week caused by pupils receiving “unwanted contact” online – in the form of cyber-bullying, compared with an international average of 3%, with Australia having the next highest proportion – 16%

In France, mobile phones have been banned from school. Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s education director, has called for more regulation of social media to alleviate the current situation where individual heads are left to try and cope. The OECD education expert urges education systems to find a way of dealing with the impact of social media and internet use on young people. He specifically warned of a lack of regulation in England, which left schools having to find their own response. Of course, apart from the emotional harm of bullying the misuse of social media was hindering learning and needed to be addressed at a wider level.
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The education secretary Damian Hinds has been drawn into the debate that young people are growing up with a warped view of what is normal because so much of what they see on social media is false. The education secretary wants “fewer selfies” and more “authenticity”. He warned of the risk of online bullying and the pressure of “negative body images” on social media.

All this is of course not new and has been brewing for some time, it’s something that every government should attach high priority to as it appears that a growing number of children are being subjected to unacceptable behaviour. This is a part of modern life which may well have consequences for them growing up into adulthood.
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It’s the dark side of the modern age, and it’s clearly about social media.
Andreas Schleicher OECD’s education director
Parents of course have a say in the matter too, but a large proportion of a child’s time is spent at school and it is here that relationships are forged. The current situation means that it is merely adding to head teachers’ workloads and deflecting them from doing what they have to do, that is making sure the children in their charge receive the best possible introduction to learning and life skills as possible.