Schoolchildren across the county are being asked about their experiences of cyber-bullying as part of a campaign to stamp it out.
Behind the move is the Police and Crime Commissioner [PCC] Matthew Scott, who is lobbying for more to be done to help youngsters being targeted through social media.
Since becoming the PCC in 2016 he has taken a keen interest in cyber-bullying visited schools and speaking with pupils about their experiences. He has also met with representatives from social media companies.
Now, following Safer Internet Day [Tuesday February 6], he has created a Cyber-Bullying Survey. It has been sent to around 900 schools in an effort to find out the scale of the problem in Kent.
Mr Scott said: “The first thing to say about my survey it is entirely anonymous. It does not ask for anyone’s name or contact details. No-one will know what answers anyone has put because I want young people to fill it out and to answer honestly.
‘What their answers will do is allow me to build a broader understanding of how much cyber-bullying is going on in Kent, and where, and to hear from young people themselves about what apps they are using.
“As adults, we might understand Facebook and Twitter but there are plenty of other apps young people are using to chat with friends and sometimes, unfortunately, to abuse each other.”
Cyber-bullying, in this case, is being defined as bullying that takes place using electronic technology such as mobile phones, computers, tablets and games consoles. It can take place on social media, in chatrooms and forums, on websites and in online gaming environments.
Examples of cyber-bullying include sending abusive or mocking messages, circulating rumours, sharing embarrassing pictures or videos, and creating fake profiles to mock the real person.
Mr Scott said: “I’ve been testing some of the survey questions with our Volunteer Police Cadets and I’m grateful for their help. I’ve made the survey shorter and added a section at the end inviting young people to suggest any ideas they have about how to make the internet safer.
“In the future I will be discussing cyber-bullying again with Government Ministers and social media companies. I want to share with them the findings of the survey and see what we can do together to tackle online abuse and harassment.”
To take part in the survey, go to www.kent-pcc.gov.uk/consultations