Council wants to ‘lead the way’ in crackdown on cyberbullying

A new programme launched by Northampton Borough Council is aiming to crack down on cyberbullying at the town’s schools.

Monday, 11th November 2019, 7:30 pm
Cyberbullying was discussed at the latest Northampton Borough Council meeting

The council says it is ‘fully committed to leading the way in showing that bullying is not okay’ after agreeing a motion from Conservative cabinet member Councillor Anna King at its full council meeting last Monday (November 4) at The Guildhall.

She said the motion, which was thought up by fellow cabinet member Councillor Mike Hallam, had been inspired by watching a TV documentary about the issue.

Councillor King’s motion stated: “Seven in ten young people have experienced cyberbullying and 26 per cent of young people who have been cyberbullied report feeling suicidal.

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“Whether you are in the public eye or not, you cannot get away from social media and it is ruining a lot of people’s lives.

“Building on the excellent BBC documentary ‘Odd One Out’, featuring Little Mix star Jesy Nelson, this council believes that there is a real need to talk more about cyberbullying, how this is making us feel and how to tackle it.

“This council further commits to launching its secondary school programme covering cyberbullying, with the first one taking place on November 24 at Weston Favell secondary and this being rolled out to Northampton International Academy and other secondary schools before the end of the academic year.

“We live in a social media obsessed world and people say things without realising the devastating effect on young lives and families.”

Councillor Hallam added: “Both Councillor King and I have teenage daughters and it was frightening to watch this documentary.”

But the motion being approved was not plain sailing. All Conservatives councillors voted in favour, as did the three Liberal Democrat councillors and independent member Cllr Julie Davenport.

Labour councillors abstained from voting, with the exception of Cllr Gareth Eales, a parliamentary candidate for Northampton South who voted in favour, and Cllr Janice Duffy who voted against.

Opposition councillors said the Conservatives merely needed to send a report outlining how they were tackling the issue as they were the party in power.

Labour leader Cllr Danielle Stone said: “This is not a motion so we will not be voting for it. The administration mistakes its role. It is in power so it has the ability to take action and put resources in. You have the tools to do this. You do not need to ask our permission to do this.”

The motion states that the council had already held a primary school event on October 16 and has two more planned for this academic year, all focusing on various community safety messages, including online safety.