At a recent conference, head teachers of private schools announced how ‘sadfishing’ is a growing behavioural trend where people make exaggerated claims about their emotional problems to generate sympathy. It means that those with genuine problems are often overlooked or even bullied.

The term was coined after a number of celebrities, such as Kendall Jenner, were accused of teasing details about personal issues on their social media site to drum up publicity and attract more likes and shares. The charity Digital Awareness UK (DAUK), says that vulnerable children who face genuine distress, are turning to the internet to find support, where they may be bullied as a result. For those who fail to receive the support they were looking for, emotional and mental health problems are made worse.

There also fears that groomers could be preying on vulnerable children by providing sympathy to gain their trust.

Earlier this year, a study (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) of 250,000 teachers in 48 countries, suggested schools in England had the highest incidence of problems with online behaviour. It indicated that 27% of head teachers in England had to deal with problems related to online bullying every week – compared with an international average of 3%.

Chris Jeffery, head teacher of Bootham School, in north Yorkshire, who chairs the HMC’s wellbeing working group, said social media and mobile technology were now an “inescapable aspect of the landscape of the lives of young people”.
“Given the nature of that technology, trends are fast-moving and it is crucial that educators and parents have regular insights into how young people are using their devices,” he said.

www.bbc.technews (1st October)