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Stand up and fight against bullying

It’s going to be, according to organisers, ‘the biggest fight against bullying that Europe has ever seen’.

It’s called The Big March and it’s a demonstration that will take a stand against a growing problem.

M&C Saatchi have created a powerful film to promote The Big March, an online protest that BeatBullying, the international bullying prevention charity, hopes can make a significant difference.

‘You can’t always see the pain that bullying causes,’ the narrator explains. ‘But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. For everyone hiding their tears, bruises and scars, we march’.

BeatBullying describe The Big March as a ‘global virtual demonstration’ and, although it’s a demonstration that’s going to take place online rather than on the streets, it boasts some influential supporters and is expected to make quite an impact.

The Big March will take place today, culminating in a petition being sent to the European Commission to call for legislation to protect the rights of children to live without the fear of bullying and cyberbullying. You can learn more about The Big March and sign the petition here.

Bullying – and cyberbullying in particular – is a hot topic at the present time and there’s no question that this is a problem that continues to afflict too many of our young people.

To what extent? In recent days, McAfee have released some startling figures that suggest cyberbullying is on the increase. These findings are based upon research conducted in California and pertain to the problem in the United States. Nevertheless, we’ve seen nothing to suggest that the situation is less serious in Europe and the UK, where anecdotal evidence points to a similar trend. Cyberbullying is alive and kicking. There’s little doubt about it.

McAfee suggest that, in the last 12 months, 87% of young people have witnessed cyberbullying in one form or another. This is up from 27% in 2013. This is worrying.

It’s important that, as adults, we don’t underestimate this. Cyberbullying is open for business 24/7.

This last line is one borrowed from Delete Cyberbullying, an online group that got together in Brussels last week to discuss the growing problem.

The group’s main message to those experiencing cyberbullying is that, although it might seem impossible to escape, help is always at hand and there is a solution. This isn’t something that has to have a tragic ending.

The advice for parents is to ‘teach children empathy, talk to them about their online activities,’ and to make clear the distinction between something that is amusing and something that is cruel.

The guidance from McAfee is similar: as adults it’s our job to understand all that endangers our children and to take the steps required to protect them. This involves understanding the perils ourselves.

Explain, educate and, above all, communicate. Bullying, in all its forms, feeds on isolation and the message must be that it’s important to talk about problems encountered online.

Young people should always feel able to talk to someone and to ask for help . . .

Young people should be confident that, as adults, we understand the issues and have some answers.

Keep calm. Don’t respond. Don’t post personal information. Change account passwords. Tell someone. This is the practical advice and guidance that children and teenagers need. It’s up to us to provide it.

There are some excellent resources available – from the organisations mentioned above and from countless others – and we’re always on hand to offer help, support and advice to young people (and their families) experiencing problems that have arisen as a result of bullying.

That this is a subject that matters a great deal to us means that we’ll be supporting today’s demonstrations.

For everyone hiding their tears, bruises and scars, we march.

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