Prince William launches Royal Foundation’s #stopspeaksupport cyberbullying action plan

Yesterday, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, was at Google’s London headquarters to meet with a cyberbullying task-force on behalf of the Royal Foundation, and unveil the national Action Plan to help tackle the issue.

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At the web giant’s offices near King’s Cross, London, Prince William took part in a final meeting of the task-force, before announcing the plan.

The Duke’s interest in cyberbullying came shortly after the birth of his own son, Prince George, in 2013, when William heard the story of a boy who killed himself as a result of online abuse.

Over the past 18 months, the task-force has met regularly to kick-start a new approach to support young people who are experiencing bullying online. They have sought out a way to prevent people falling victim to online bullies, recognise any such behaviour in themselves and a way for the internet’s guardians to intervene.

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The task force is chaired by the entrepreneur and founder of travel website lastminute.com, Brent Hoberman. Children’s charities, parents, and a panel of young people were also involved, along with the Anti-Bullying Alliance, BT, The Diana Award, Internet Matters, O2, Sky, Supercell, TalkTalk, Vodafone and Virgin Media.

The Taskforce has also committed to building a universal strategy for support information about cyberbullying, and to design new safety guidelines, Kensington Palace said.

The Duke of Cambridge announced a ‘green cross code’ as part of the plan to help those who experience online bullying. It hopes to teach young people, 11-16, what to do if they fall victim to dangerous anonymous bullying online. The steps are ‘Stop. Speak. Support’.

prince william launches the taskforce’s action plan on cyberbullying

The code of conduct, part of the Royal Foundation’s taskforce on the Prevention of Cyber bullying, encourages young people to consider how they behave online, and to speak to an adult, or report any abuse.

Kensington Palace said the new service will be trialled among groups of young people ahead of a broader roll-out.

Speaking in a video released on Wednesday, Prince William warned that online anonymity can be ‘really dangerous’ as it allows bullies to ignore the impact of their actions.

The film shows William meeting Lucy Alexander, whose son Felix killed himself after receiving persistent online abuse, and cyberbullying victim Chloe Hine, who attempted to take her own life at the age of 13, also having suffered internet bullying.

Both Lucy and Chloe were involved in the development of the action plan, having close experience with internet bullying.

At the launch, The Duke of Cambridge spoke of the ‘supercharged’ nature of bullying in the age of social media: “For me, the issue of cyberbullying and its consequences are personal. My work as a HEMS pilot has exposed me to the tragedy of suicide and the despair felt by those who have been subjected to cruelty and abuse.

“Through my work on mental health, I have spent time getting to know parents and children for whom the impact of online bullying has been devastating.

“And as a parent myself, I understand the sense of loss and anger of those particular families who have lost children after they were the targets of campaigns of harassment,” William explained.

“I feel a responsibility to do what I can to help.”

The future King explained the taskforce’s plan:

There are four major planks to our plan. “First, the technology company members of the Taskforce have agreed to adopt new guidelines to improve the process for reporting bullying online, and to create clearer consequences for those who behave unacceptably.

“Second, the Taskforce is launching today a new, national campaign to educate children on how to behave with respect and kindness online. The campaign is being driven by the powerful reach of the industry members of the Taskforce.

“Third, a new programme will be piloted through Facebook and Snapchat which will see the NSPCC providing emotional support to children in need, as a result of online bullying.

“And finally, the companies and charities that have been part of the Taskforce, will continue to work together to provide consistent advice to parents and to continue to take feedback from children and young people as they develop their policies.”

Following his speech, Prince William spoke to a group of youngsters to gauge their reaction to the new plan.

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