The Duke of Cambridge will convene a new industry-led taskforce to support young people and their families affected by cyberbullying.
His Royal Highness has asked tech entrepreneur Brent Hoberman CBE to chair the group, with support for this ambitious project from The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
Over the next year, The Royal Foundation Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying will bring together industry partners and a group of advisors from the sector to develop an industry-wide response to the online bullying of young people, with a focus on 12-14 year olds.
A spokesman for The Duke of Cambridge said: “This is an issue that The Duke feels strongly about. He knows that social media and other technologies are creating significant positive opportunities for millions of young people. But as a parent, he knows that many people worry about how to protect their children from the new avenues for bullying that technology is creating. He hopes the taskforce can help the industry share the best practice that is emerging across the sector and put in place new standards so that the internet remains something young people and their parents can embrace with confidence.”
Studies suggest that some 35% of 11-17 year olds have experienced some form of cyberbullying during their lives, and 40% have witnessed cyberbullying within a social network they use. Cyberbullying, in common with other forms of bullying, can have a detrimental effect on the mental health of children and young people. The effect of technology means the impact of bullying is instantly multiplied through social networks, and can feel harder for young people to escape.
While most social platforms and service providers do have systems in place for reporting or removing abusive content, there is no common industry standard or commitment to tackle the issue, nor is there an existing single repository of information for users on how to address it.
The taskforce will take existing models of good practice for reporting abusive content on individual networks and develop a set of commitments for the industry to sign up to, to collectively tackle the issue. It will consider the development of a single resource of up to date practical support and information for young people affected by cyberbullying, with advice on how to get help. It will also work to help parents and adults to better understand cyberbullying, and give them the confidence to find appropriate help and resources to support children affected by the issue.
Full membership of the taskforce will be announced soon, but will include leading figures from technology companies and internet service providers. The taskforce will also be supported by a panel of young people aged 11-15, to ensure it remains engaged in current online trends.
Brent Hoberman CBE said: “This Taskforce will bring together the commitment, talent and expertise of the technology industry to tackle Cyberbullying and the terrible effect it has on children. The future of our children is inextricably linked with the Internet. It is our responsibility to ensure that they grow up confident and happy online so that they can make the most of the extraordinary potential it offers.”