Michael Gove has called on teachers to do more to stop the ‘viciousness and personal cruelty’ of online bullies. He wants websites that post their taunts to be held to account.
Teachers must do more to stop online bullies like those responsible for the death of 14 year-old Hannah Smith last month. She was told to drink bleach and cut herself by users of the Latvian-based website Ask.fm, the Daily Mail reports.
The Education Secretary suggested that enough isn’t being done in the classroom to instil ‘respect for other human beings’ and teach pupils ‘the right values’. “Why is it that among some young people there is a desire to show a degree of viciousness and personal cruelty which is horrendous? Part of that comes from making sure that we have the right behaviour and discipline policies in schools and that we teach our children the right values,” he said.
Mr. Gove said that technology has created a new arena where bullying can take place and that it is important that websites which allow bullying are held to account: “One of the things we can do is use effective publicity to shame those who are allowing that sort of activity to exist on sites. But we need to ask a series of questions – not just about how this technology can be used to inflict suffering on vulnerable young people. We also need to ask about the motivation of those young people who are using these sites.”
NAHT’s Russell Hobby described cyber bullying as an ‘age-old threat given an intrusive new reach by technology’ and said: “We need to teach children how to protect themselves and how to behave online. It can be done and is being done in many schools.”
Is the Education Secretary right to call on schools to do more to prevent online bullying? Should he be urging parents to combat it as well?