Pupil, 12, takes on the web bullies

Georgia Maple, 12
Georgia Maple, 12

A 12-year-old victim of cyberbullies has taken her campaign to stop online abuse to the House of Lords.

Georgia Maple, a student at Albany Science College in Chorley, was cyberbullied about 18 months ago when she began receiving hurtful messages over Facebook.

As her so-called friends began ‘liking’ those comments, Georgia was left feeling targeted and down.

But instead of just accepting the hurt, Georgia decided to put her own experiences to good use and begin a study on cyberbullying that could help others dealing with similar situations.

Yesterday she attended the House of Lords in London, as part of National Stalking Awareness Day.

The results of her study were read out at the event by her uncle Professor Carsten Maple, who is a director of the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research.

From Georgia’s research, it was revealed that 51% of pupils that undertook the survey have been the victim of hurtful comments. A further 78% had witnessed others being subjected to the abuse.

Alarmingly, 16% of those surveyed said that they had been a victim of persistent bullying, compared to the less than 8% reported in the Beatbullying study of last year.

Georgia said: “The pages really upset me, making me wonder what I had done wrong. I doubted myself and felt very down.

“I didn’t want other pupils to have to go through this, and make them realise there are ways to get help.

“I don’t think the people who did this to me realised how it feels to have someone do this.

“Cyberbullying is really hard to police within school, and I hope that my survey can help people in the future.

“I hope that I can make sure people realise the impact of their hurtful actions.

“I am just really excited that I can be at the House of Lords, and I am proud of myself for trying to get my message out there.”

Georgia’s aunt Donna Welch, 34, who also attended the House of Lords national event with her niece, said: “Cyberbullying is very harrowing, and it had a big impact on Georgia’s confidence.

“Georgia decided that she wanted to see how it is for other young people and how it has impacted on their lives.

“Albany agreed to let Georgia do her study at the school.

“The most hurtful thing is when people ‘like’ the page – that has the most detrimental impact.

“Georgia thought some of the people ‘liking’ the pages were her friends. All the family are very proud of her.

“To do something like this at such a young age, and to mingle with the MPs, is great.”

Georgia is particularly grateful to her school, Albany Science College, who she said have been particularly supportive of her, while she has been working hard on her cyberbullying study.

John Hayes, headteacher at Albany Science College, said: “We are very proud of Georgia.”

What are your thoughts on cyberbullying?

E-mail Rebecca.Cohen@jpress.co.uk or ring 01257 264911.