Politicians in Flintshire have been told they should set a better example to young people after vowing to take a stand against cyberbullying.
A motion was brought forward calling on Flintshire Council to tackle the issue after a survey of 6,585 secondary school children in the county showed almost a quarter have been subjected to bullying online.
It was suggested after former teacher David Healey, who represents Caergwrle, said he believed cyberbullying had contributed to the increase in mental health issues among pupils.
His proposal was debated at a full council meeting which was held yesterday, during which a number of councillors said they should also reflect on their own behaviour.
It followed several fiery exchanges during an earlier debate on council tax.
Introducing his motion, Cllr Healey (Lab) said he was concerned about the damaging impact cyberbullying was having.
He said: “We know there is an increase in mental health problems amongst our children in schools.
“Very sadly, there’s quite a bit of anecdotal evidence to show that one of the contributing factors is bullying online.
“I’ve had children at school, and I know what bullying can do and how damaging it is, but I’m grateful my own children weren’t around when social media was.
“However, my grandchildren are and our current children in schools are and this gives a whole added dimension to the damage that is being done.
“I think we do have to make a stand.”
Cllr Healey also criticised the way social media is used by some politicians, including US president Donald Trump.
Members of a backbench group of councillors in Flintshire previously pledged to take a stand against the issue.
However, at the full council meeting, some said they wanted to take it further by asking for a report from officers on what the authority can do to stop cyberbullying.
Cllr Paul Cunningham (Lab) was among those who said he felt they should also consider their own behaviour.
Addressing the chair of the meeting, he said: “I think we ought to look at ourselves first and the behaviour in this council chamber.
“How many times today have you asked people across the floor to show a bit of respect?
“We should deplore cyberbullying and we should deplore any kind of bullying.”
Meanwhile, an independent councillor voiced concerns about the 24-hour nature of online bullying, which he said could affect children even when they are at home.
Cllr Richard Jones said: “A friend of mine I work with has got two children and he says the big difference nowadays is when someone is bullied online it’s 24 hours a day.
“There’s kids sat there on their phones being bullied while they’re in their bedrooms.”
At the end of the meeting, all councillors rose to their feet to support Cllr Healey’s motion.
They will receive a report back on the action to be taken by the council against cyberbullying at a later date.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).