Schools should threaten pupils with criminal charges if they bully classmates, a Midland MP and senior education Minister has warned.
Jacqui Smith, MP for Redditch and Minister for Schools, said teachers should warn children that using mobile phones for bullying was a crime and they would be arrested.
She was speaking in the House of Commons after Black Country MP Adrian Bailey (Lab West Bromwich West) demanded tougher action to deal with bullies.
He warned that mobile phones were increasingly being used in bullying, as pupils sent each other abusive text messages or photo-graphed acts of violence.
It followed a survey by leading children's charity NCH which found one in six children in the West Midlands have been bullied by mobile phone or computer.
Ms Smith said: "Pupils need not only to understand the impact of their behaviour but the way in which harm can be multiplied if abuse and bullying is recorded and circulated.
"They need to know that using telecommunications e quipment for a crime, whether to circulate pictures of an assault or an abusive text message, is a crime itself for which they could be charged.
"That approach was successfully adopted by a second-ary school in south London that briefed all its pupils about the issue, and it has reduced the problem significantly."
Mobile phone companies were already working closely with the Home Office to find ways of making it harder to use their products to harass people, she said.
But the root cause of the problem was not technology, but young people who "lack empathy with others and do not understand the impact of their actions," she added.
"There is often no let up in the abuse. Nowhere is safe if people are contactable at all hours by mobile phone. It is thus possible that the trend will develop and affect more of our children."
Mr Bailey said: "Young people are fascinated by the technology, and mobile phones constitute one of their most treasured possessions, but there is a dark side. For children who wish to bully others, the technology provides a new dimension to their capacity for intimidation.
"Along with text bullying, the bizarre and inappropriately named practice of "happy slapping" has provided new technological refinements for the age-old playground bully."
He added: "In the West Midlands, a boy was injured in a bicycle accident. Young people gathered around and took photographs.
"They even impeded the emergency services attempting to help the boy as they took more photographs on their mobile phones.
"Pupils from both primary and secondary schools have told me that bullying like that, a nd text bullying, are frequently encountered in school."
Mobile phone companies could make it harder to use phones to bully, he said.
"Technologically, it is feasible to have a registration system where the pupil and school are identified and a profile is downloaded to phones that effectively blocks calls from unwanted sources, and restricts the use of cameras and the times when the phone can be used."