Teachers must do more to stop the ‘viciousness and personal cruelty’ of online bullies such as those who taunted teenager Hannah Smith to death, Michael Gove said yesterday. This is from the Daily Mail…
The Education Secretary suggested not enough was being done in the classroom to instil ‘respect for other human beings’ and teach pupils ‘the right values’.
He said cyber-bullying was a ‘huge problem’, but that as well as those who run websites being held to account, teachers had to provide the ‘right behaviour and discipline policies in schools’.
…Mr Gove, speaking at the Tory Party’s HQ in London, said: ‘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 we have the right behaviour and discipline policies in schools and that we teach our children the right values.’
This included tolerance of difference and also respect for other human beings, he said.
…Mr Gove said it was important that websites which enabled bullying were held to account but that society must examine the motivation of their young users.
‘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,’ he said.
‘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.’
He said it was true that technology had created a new arena where bullying could take place.
‘But when it comes to tackling bullying, it’s not just fixing a technology, it’s fixing what’s in people’s hearts,’ he said.
…Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: ‘Cyber-bullying is an age-old threat given an intrusive new reach by technology. It’s real and the effects can be tragic.
‘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 Michael Gove right to raise this as an issue for schools? Should he also be drawing the attention of parents to their role in helping instil respect in their own children? Please share in the comments or on twitter…