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Facebook offers every UK high school an anti-bullying ambassador

The social network commits to training young people to provide offline peer support to victims of online bullying.

Social Media Life

Research shows teens are most likely to confide in peers about bullying.

Lily Dale#137595/Getty

Facebook committed to an anti-bullying strategy on Monday that will see it offer every secondary school in the UK a dedicated digital safety ambassador.

The commitment is an expansion of its existing program run along with youth charities Childnet and The Diana Award that trains young people to provide peer-to-peer offline support for online bullying. Up to 4,500 schools could benefit from the program, with tens of thousands of teenagers trained as ambassadors.

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety estimates that between 6 and 25 percent of young people in the UK have experienced some form of cyber-bullying. Facebook only allows children over the age of 13 to use the social network and in 2013 launched its Bullying Prevention Hub with the Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence.

Its latest initiative to tackle online bullying is based around new findings from youth research organization ResearchBods that show 72 percent of teenagers who experience cyber-bullying are likely to confide in a peer, compared to 60 percent who would turn to a parent and only 34 percent who would tell a teacher.

"Over the last decade, we have developed a wealth of innovative resources on Facebook that enable young people to look after themselves and their peers, from our updated Safety Centre, to our online reporting tools," said Antigone Davis, Head of Global Safety Policy at Facebook, in a statement. "By offering trained digital safety ambassadors to every UK secondary school we are now taking this commitment offline too."

Schools who want to train students as digital safety ambassadors can register through Childnet or The Diana Award.

"These students in schools will help give their peers the tools they need to stay safe and tackle issues such as cyberbullying," said UK Culture Secretary Karen Brady in a statement.

Facebook is also offering schoolchildren from across the UK an opportunity to attend an immersive anti-bullying experience. The social network is calling it "The House of Us", and it will take place in London over the next couple of days. Students will be encouraged to explore exhibits including an audio maze that evokes feelings of being bullied and an interactive light room that reacts to positive sentiments. Feedback from participants will be used to shape future anti-bullying programs and address the unique problems that young people face online.

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