Stamp Out Cyberbullying and Keep Safe!

Dr Hannah Opstad, Paediatric Registrar, St Mary’s Hospital, London.


Adolescents are well recognised as highly vulnerable to online abuse. We sought to target state primary school children, using a novel teaching programme, SOCKS, to foster online safety awareness skills before adolescence. We report on the development of this programme and the pilot results.


Objective: To improve knowledge about online safety and abuse reporting in primary school children.

This programme was designed following a focus group discussion with adolescents. It comprises a 1-hour long teaching session. This has been trialed on two Year 5 classes with feedback obtained by questionnaire before/ after the session.


Data: 60 Year 5 children took part in the pilot. Prior to the class being delivered, 18/60 (30%) 9-10 year-olds signalled that they have a social media profile. One 10-year-old boy stated “Snapchat is my life!”

6/60 (10%) children admitted that they have friends online who they do not know offline. The feedback following the teaching showed many children had obtained greater awareness with qualitative analysis demonstrating themes of ‘intent to report harmful content’/ ‘insight into hurt caused by anonymous comments’:

e.g. “I probably would have written “that’s really funny…lol!” but after this session I don’t think I would because that would probably upset her”. Age 10


Our pilot programme highlights how common use of social media is, even in this young age group. The SOCKS programme is an engaging teaching programme to develop online safety awareness skills. It was universally well received by staff and students. This programme is due to be taught in a further two schools in the near future, pending wider rollout.



Dr Ian Maconochie, Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine

Dr Rebecca Salter, Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine

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