Bullying has always been around, but it seems that its faceless 21st century form – cyberbullying - is on the rise.

Only a few months ago the anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label's Annual Cyber Bullying Survey found that 69% of young people aged between 13 and 22 had been cyberbullied, with 30% of them said the bullying had been "extreme".

On top of that, councils in Scotland have said that cyberbullying in schools is reported around three times a week.

It's not hard to see why it's on the increase - bullies who may not actually be that confident themselves can hide behind technology, and fire off their nasty texts, emails or Facebook posts without physically going near their victim or seeing the upset their vicious taunts can cause.

It must be very hard to tackle cyberbullying, as parents, teachers and indeed classmates and friends are unlikely to see the threats, unlike physical bullying which may sometimes be witnessed.

It must really damage a youngster's already brittle self-esteem"

 

It really is an insidious form of bullying, and one that must really damage a youngster's already brittle self-esteem.

I imagine the bullied kids understandably aren't brave enough to stand up to their tormentors, whether they be cyberbullies or the traditional face-to-face kind.

They clearly need to tell someone about what's happening so action can be taken to stop it. However, even that's not as easy as it might sound.

A few years ago, my cousin's daughter was being bullied, firstly face-to-face and then by cyberbullying. It had gone on for quite some time before my cousin found out about it when she saw one of the nasty emails her daughter had been sent.

She did what parents are supposed to do, by telling her daughter's school. But still the bullying continued, with the bully telling my cousin's daughter she could even make her 'disappear'.

I don't know if this is a recommended next step or not, but my cousin then took matters into her own hands and spoke to the bully's mum about what was happening.

Yet still it went on.

So then - and I know this wouldn't be recommended, but sometimes you have to really take the bull by the horns - my cousin spoke to the bully herself.

The bullying stopped immediately. My cousin didn't tell her daughter what she'd done, and I don't know whether the bully's parents or the school ever found out. But if they did, nothing was said.

Desperate times need desperate measures"

I'm not condoning what my cousin did, as I know it's very dodgy ground for an adult to confront a child directly. But I'm sure it's not the first time it's happened, and it won't be the last.

Parents will protect their young in any way they can, and woe betide the person - in this case the little bully - who tries to hurt their child either emotionally or physically.

My cousin's daughter was in pieces about what the bully was saying to her, and while I'm not sure it's something I would be brave enough to do myself, I do respect my cousin for having the guts to tackle a nasty situation head-on.

Desperate times need desperate measures. 

Lisa Salmon is a journalist at the Press Association.

This article is the opinion of Lisa Salmon and not necessarily that of BT.