Pastoral update: The effects of cyberbullying and a new app to watch out for

By Rick Cross, Deputy Head (Pastoral)

Schools, parents and students have long known about the debilitating effects of cyberbullying, and with numerous restrictions on our freedoms and movements over recent months, the need to be kind to each other online seems even more pertinent.

Students at Bedales, as with young people across the country, have access to a huge range of apps and services, but with this freedom comes responsibility. Parents play a vital role in this process too and in my experience want to help. To that end I would like to highlight Internet Matters as a useful resource, which provides parents with guidance about a rapidly changing world online, and offers reviews of apps for parents.

One app worth being aware is Tellonym, where users can receive messages through the platform which are called ‘Tells’. Every Tell is sent and received to the recipient’s private inbox, which no one else can see. Then, only if a user decides to answer a Tell, the original Tell, and the answer becomes visible to other users. This app has been given a rating of 17+ on the Apple App Store, but we are aware it is being used by younger students at Bedales.

This anonymous app has gathered some concerning reviews and press coverage over recent years. I include it here as a way to open up a conversation with your children about what apps they may be using and how to behave responsibly whilst also staying safe and avoiding risky behaviour. Cyberbullying makes up part of the schools Anti-Bullying policy.

On Tuesday next week, Jen Moore, the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL), will host a special session for students about the schools guiding principles and rationale behind the schools filtering system, discussing different sites and platforms students regularly ask for. We want to engage with the student body so they can enjoy the online world safely.