Headmaster Nick Taunt has told parents that his Chichester school takes internet bullying “very seriously” after revealing some pupils suffered upset using social media over the summer.
Mr Taunt, head of Bishop Luffa School which has around 1,400 pupils, has written to parents to remind them about the “potentially serious and damaging consequences of the inappropriate use of social media by pupils”.
He writes: “Several incidents over the summer have led to upsetting breakdowns in relationships, which have affected some pupils in school.
“Pupils can too easily be the victims of abusive online messages from others. But pupils can also unwittingly cause distress to others by posting hurtful messages online.
“It is easy for young people to think that they know what they are doing when using social media: Many think their online messages or images are private; they are not. It only takes one member of a restricted group (like a group chat) to tell an online friend who’s outside the group for those messages to become public.
“Many think their online messages or images are easy to delete; they are not. Even images or messages on ‘self-destruct’ messaging apps are easy to save and post on.
“Many think they are in control of their online messages or images; they are not. Once messages or images are posted online, they can be used creatively or destructively by anyone with the basic know-how to access them.
“Please could I ask you to open a conversation with your child about the use of social media. Social media companies have age restrictions written into the terms and conditions of their apps. All have restrictions up to 13 years old; several have restrictions set higher.
“Online messages have a power and permanence of which pupils are simply unaware. For this reason we as a school are obliged to take any internet bullying very seriously. I know that parents and pupils would be distressed beyond their imagining should they become either a victim or an unintentional perpetrator of online abuse. We will be addressing these issues with pupils, and I would urge you to do the same.”