School pupils have become “cybermentors” who will go on to teach their classmates how to combat online bullies.
Parkside School in Cullingworth has joined forces with the Beatbullying charity and Channel 4 Education to deal with an issue that has become increasingly common for young people.
Cyber bullying involves using social networks or other online forums to harass or demean another person, and research shows one in three young people have been a victim.
Earlier this month a number of pupils and staff at the school were victims of such bullying when an unknown person set up a Facebook page containing abusive remarks and allegations. It has since been removed.
Volunteers from years eight to 13 took part in workshops that taught them how to deal with bullies who use the internet and how to teach peers to do the same.
Other schools who have worked with the charity have reported a reduction in bullying by a third and a 31 per cent increase in the level of reporting of bullying after such workshops.
Robert Johnson, anti-bullying co-ordinator at the school, was delighted with how the sessions went. He said the school was chosen by the charity because of its previous anti-bullying campaigns.
He said: “It is all right for adults to say ‘this is what bullying is’ but I think it is a lot easier a message to take on when it comes from your peer group.
“I was impressed with all the ideas the pupils came up with, like speaking at assemblies. It is about getting young people to talk to each other.
“The bullies don’t do it face to face, so they can’t see the impact they have on their victims. They need to develop their social skills.”
Talking about the recent incident of Facebook bullying, he said: “It might have been someone setting up site with good intentions, but some people took it as a way of disparaging other people. Fortunately it was dealt with very quickly.
“People need to remember what they put online today could still be online when they are a pensioner.”