SPANISH police have warned parents and teachers to be on the lookout for signs of children being bullied online.

While many children have had to endure bullying since time immemorial, they at least used to be able to escape it in the haven of their own home.

But with the rise of the internet – and the ubiquity of smartphones – the greatest threat to 21st century schookids is cyber bullying.

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Online bullying (Image: Flickr)

It can happen relentlessly anytime, anywhere. 

This insidious form of antisocial networking is the biggest battle parents, schools and pupils are fighting and it’s a massive problem not only in Spain but throughout the world.

The National Police say mobile phones were a game changer and in their experience, most bullying cases become cyberbullying over time. 

“The talks we used to give to 15-year-olds, we now give to elementary school kids,” said a spokesman. “Parents give phones to their kids without much thought, it’s as though they were giving them a car without explaining the rules of the road.”

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Most bullying cases beome cyberbullying (Image: Flickr)

Statistics show that 45.2% of 11-year-olds have a phone, rising to 75% of 12-year-olds and 92% of 14-year-olds. And not having one can also be a reason for social isolation.

But Spain is cracking down on the problem. Madrid recently banned the use of mobile phones in classrooms, following the lead of schools in Galicia and Castile La Mancha. Around 1,700 public schools and around 800 thousand pupils  were affected by the ruling. 

“This is a measure aimed at improving students’ academic achievement, especially those who have major problems with studying, and is also focused on fighting cyberbullying and bullying,” said a spokesman for Madrid’s Ministry of Education.

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