Cyberbullying and Special Educational Needs

Some groups of children are potentially more vulnerable and more at risk that others when using ICT. These can include children with emotional or behavioural difficulties, learning difficulties, and other complex needs, a well as those whose English is an additional language, and looked after children. These groups may be particularly vulnerable to e-safety risks. For example:

  • Some children and young people are more likely to make literal interpretations of content which will affect how they respond. For example, those who are hearing impaired, those on the Autistic Spectrum and/or those who have language and communication difficulties.
  • Some children may not understand much of the terminology due to language delays or disorders.
  • Some children with complex needs do not understand the concept of friendship, and therefore trust everyone implicitly. They cannot make judgements about what is safe information to share. This leads to confusion about why others on the Internet should not be trusted.

There is growing concern around cyberbullying. Some children with SEN or disabilities may be vulnerable to being bullied through the Internet, or not recognise that they are being bullied. In addition, some children may not appreciate how their own online behaviour may be seen by someone else as bullying.

The National Deaf Children's Society has produced an excellent film on Internet safety and cyberbullying with signing and sub-titles.

Like all bullying, prejudice may be the motivation behind cyberbullying and general guidance on tackling bullying of 'equality groups' will be relevant.