Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Czech move to stop cyber bullying

Child holding a mobile phone
Czechs are alarmed by the growth of cyber bullying

The Czech education ministry has drawn up guidelines for teachers to halt the spread of cyber bullying in schools.

Some Czech children have attempted to blackmail teachers or classmates by posting video clips of them on the internet, a ministry spokesman said.

Tomas Bouska told BBC News that the guidelines offered schools more options than simply confiscating mobile phones or banning their use during classes.

A clip of a Czech teacher slapping a child has fuelled debate on the issue.

The clip, which appeared on the internet in June, showed a teacher telling a boy off for having a messy desk and then smacking him when he answered back, Radio Prague reported. The boy then stormed out of the classroom.

"There was a huge debate about it," Mr Bouska said. "People asked: 'If it is put online is that a crime? After all, it's a crime to slap a child'."

Cyber bullying is spreading through mobile phone calls, e-mail, SMS texting and MMS - the sending of images, audio or video via mobile phone - Mr Bouska said, adding that most teenagers in the Czech Republic now use the internet every day.

Apart from taking away electronic gadgets, the guidelines suggest teachers can invite the parents to discuss their child's behaviour at school, or move a naughty child to a different class, he said. For a repeat offender the sanction may be a police caution.

The ministry says it is not imposing rules on schools, but recognising that the problem of cyber bullying needs to be tackled.

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