PUPILS in St Neots are to sign a new anti-bullying pledge amid growing concerns about youngsters trading insults on the web and by text message.

Teachers believe the way bullies in Huntingdonshire go about terrifying their victims has changed over the past two years, with silent rumours spread by text message in playground and threats made on Facebook and MySpace.

In a bid to curb old-style tactics and new covert methods, students from 19 primary, infant and secondary schools across the town will join forces to re-write the bullying charter and set the standards for good behaviour during Anti-Bullying Week.

They will also get to decide on punishments that should be dished out to tormentors and work with the police, St Neots Town Council and social services to eradicate the problem.

Christine Tuff, headteacher The Round House Community Primary School, said: “So often these things come top down from adults. Although pupils agree with the sentiments, it can be harder for them to fully engage if it is something they haven't been involved in.

“If students can see that they came up with that word or phrase, they become much more involved in the charter.”

The changing nature of playground intimidation came to light when Ramsey Abbey College deputy head teacher Andy Christoforou said: “The main form of bullying has transformed. No longer to people call each other names because staff are so used to dealing with it.”

Ms Tuff says: “There still an element of how it used to be. It's reduced because there is more awareness of it now but I don't think that's changed.”

However she admitted: “Whenever you get a new technology, it seems to open up a new avenue to those children determined to be unpleasant.”

She said cyber-bullying was “difficult to stop” but warned: “You have to keep track of it.”

“Any school that says they have no bullying is lying,” she added. “You have to give the children a strategy of how to deal with it.”

The Anti-Bullying Workshop at The Bargroves Centre next Friday (November 19) is designed to put in place a system that supports students at risk.

Older pupils will be encouraged to mentor younger boys and girls through the process and give them greater confidence as they move up to secondary school.

“It has also brought the community together to say: 'We are against bullying,'” Ms Tuff said.