Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk will lead a high profile debate in Parliament on cyberbullying on Monday 16th April. The debate builds on the findings of his cross-party Parliamentary Inquiry into the impact of cyberbullying on children and young people’s mental health. The Inquiry took evidence from over 1,000 young people and a range of health and social media experts.
Speaking in advance of the debate Alex Chalk said “Cyberbullying wrecks lives. Evidence from over 1,000 young people shows its toxic effect on adolescent mental health. It needs tackling robustly, because prevention is better than cure.”
“Recently published research by the Prince’s Trust suggested that young people’s wellbeing has fallen over the last twelve months. It is at its lowest level since the study was first commissioned in 2009.
“Research from the USA referred to an ‘acute health crisis happening among members of the youngest generation of Americans, with critical implications for the country's future’. Similar data is emerging from France and Germany.”
Alex Chalk explained: “We found that nearly half of children spend more than three hours a day on social media, with 1 in 10 using social media between midnight and 6am. 61% of young people get a social media account under the age of 12. 68% of our respondents have experienced cyberbullying in the past 12 months.
“The rapid neurological development taking place in the teenage brain makes them particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying. Its impact can last into adulthood, with what one expert called “lasting consequences on the adolescent brain”.
“A staggering 83% of young people told our inquiry that social media companies should do more to tackle this problem. Young people feel the onus is on the victim to act. Reporting feels like shouting into an empty room.
Alex Chalk continued: “In his New Year 2018 message Mark Zuckerberg vowed to “fix” Facebook. One of the priorities he highlighted was “protecting our community from abuse and hate”. He admitted that enforcement of house policies was failing.
“He’s right. The larger companies may be taking this more seriously, with signposting and resource hubs. But the overall impression is that measures are largely tokenistic – slow and inadequate.
“This debate is intended to shine a light on this issue, and play a small part in pushing prevention up the political agenda.”