Sixteen cases of cyber bullying have been reported in Borders primary and secondary schools and over 200 mobile phones confiscated over the past four years.
Modern technology is changing the landscape in our schools and as well as this new form of bullying which teachers and parents have to look out for there is also the distraction of so many mobile phones being taken into classrooms.
Local MSP John Lamont is concerned about the impact of both cyber bullying and the presence of mobile phones in classrooms; calling for a ban on phones in classrooms and warning parents to be alert to the signs of cyber bullying.
At least two of the cases of cyber bullying involved the police and one resulted in a pupil being excluded when the bullying went too far. Two of the four cases dealt with in local primary schools resulted in verbal warnings and letters sent to parents; the other two incidents were deal with by locality police officers. The 12 secondary school cases largely resulted in disciplinary action within school and the parents informed. However, there were incidents where the police were involved and one secondary school pupil was excluded.
Mr Lamont said: “Technology, the internet and social media can be great tools to connect people and improve the ways in which youngsters learn.
“However, as these statistics show, they can also be used as another medium in which to bully others.
“Several Borders pupils have been victims of bullying such as this in the last few years alone, and I am pleased that each case has been dealt with in a strict manner.
“We cannot allow anyone to think that it is an acceptable way to behave, and by adopting a zero tolerance approach we can ensure that we discourage others from doing it.
“By reporting it to the parents of the children involved, and in some instances involving the police, I am confident that in the Borders we are doing what we can to stop cyber bullying. However, many cases of cyber bullying go unreported and we must be vigilant against it.”
“Whether it is through facebook or while online gaming, cyber bullying is never acceptable and I would urge parents to keep an eye on what their children are doing online. If we pick cases up early we can ensure that the problem is nipped in the bud and doesn’t lead to further abuse.”
He added:“The classroom is supposed to be a place for learning, but more and more lessons are being disrupted by those with mobile phones. Teachers have had to stop their lesson hundreds of times over the past few years just to deal with those playing on their phones.
“It is now all too easy for a pupil to have access to their phones in class, and to distract themselves and others around them.
“We need to start clamping down on their use in classrooms, and the common sense thing to do would be to have all pupils hand their phones in at the beginning of the lesson.
“An outright ban on phones on school premises would be excessive, but this plan would allow children to use their phones at break time and after school.”