Modern Children Under Pressure: What can Schools Do to Help?
Britain’s children are not a happy bunch. In a recent report by the Children’s Society, ten to twelve-year-olds in the UK were ranked 14th out of 15 nations for happiness. What is it, then, that is making our youngsters so unhappy? Many charities and organisations put the blame down to fears and worries that simply didn’t exist thirty years ago, with modern pressures such as cyberbullying and social media coming top of the worry list, but if this is case perhaps we need a fresh approach to solving the problem.
Friendship is a factor that is often cited as the main reason for children’s happiness and self-esteem and yet according to the Children Society’s report our schoolchildren have some of the most fraught social relationships of all. With our youngsters more likely than those in other countries to be left out by their classmates, surely this is the cauldron for much of the cyberbullying facing our pre-teens. Schools need to do what they can to minimise the problems caused by our increasingly competitive and judgemental society, but the lines of communication are clearly changing.
Whilst traditionally family problems, abuse or bullying would have been reported by children to organisations like ChildLine via their landline, public telephone box or letter in the post, today’s youngsters are naturally taking a more technical approach. Children today are turning to the internet for help – whether this is seeking support or looking for ways to report any injustice against them. It is not surprising that in their world, which is dominated by mobile devices and virtual connectivity, modern children should engage via email or online chat, rather than by telephone call, letter or face-to-face. Schools wanting to provide a viable solution to cyberbullying and social pressures need to therefore put themselves on the same level as students, making child protection systems available online, at any time and in a secure manner.
The Children’s Commissioner for England recently called for all schools to provide counselling for pupils, to help children deal with their anxieties without having to always resort to online information which may not always be accurate or helpful. But will today’s young people feel more comfortable in the virtual environment they are used to or would this just add to the problem? The Contact Group’s E-mentoring system provides a secure online, text and email solution that facilitates communication between student and mentor. With moderated forums and a secure website, students can send messages to mentors safely and in confidence from wherever they are, providing they have access to the internet. This system works as a standalone solution but is perhaps most effective when used to enhance face to face communication.
It is not only the pressure to keep up with outward appearances but also that of having the ‘perfect life’ online that is pushing our children to breaking point. In pursuit of this perfection many are active on their mobile devices long into the night, with some studies suggesting that teens are only getting an average of 7.5 hours sleep per night, rather than their recommended 9.5 hours. With longer hours spent online, children are more vulnerable to cyberbullying. Schools and parents should therefore be concerned not just by bullying during the school day, but what takes place out of hours, on the internet. Tell by Text is our easy to use bullying reporting system which encourages young people to report incidents of bullying directly to schools. Students can call, text or report incidents online and have the option to upload images as evidence.
To request a demonstration or find out more information about our E-mentoring or Tell By Text systems please click here or call The Contact Group team on 03333 131415.