Cyberbullying (also called “online bullying”) is when a person or a group of people uses the internet, email, online games or any other kind of digital technology to threaten, tease, upset or humiliate someone else.
What are the Issues with Cyberbullying?
- 24/7 and the invasion of home/ personal space.
Cyberbullying can take place at any time and can intrude into spaces that have previously been regarded as safe or personal.
- The audience can be very large and reached rapidly.
The difficulty in controlling electronically circulated messages means the scale and scope of cyberbullying can be greater than for other forms of bullying. Electronically forwarded content is hard to control, and the worry of content resurfacing can make it difficult for targets to move on.
- People who cyberbully may attempt to remain anonymous.
This can be extremely distressing for those being bullied. The person cyberbullying may never be in the same physical space as their target.
- The profile of the bully and target.
Cyberbullying can take place both between peers and across generations; teachers have also been targets. Age or size are not important. Bystanders can also become accessories to the bullying; for example, by passing on a humiliating image.
- Some instances of cyberbullying are known to be unintentional.
It can be the result of not thinking (something sent as a joke may be deeply upsetting or offensive to the recipient) or a lack of awareness of the consequences – for example saying something negative online about another pupil, or friend that they don’t expect to be forwarded or viewed outside their immediate group.
- Many cyberbullying incidents can themselves act as evidence.
This is one of the reasons why it’s important to know how to respond!
(Information taken from Childnet) visit Childnet International.com for further details.
Spotting Signs of Cyberbullying
It is not always easy to spot the signs of cyberbullying. Be alert to a change in your child’s behaviour, for example:
- Being upset after using the internet or their mobile phone;
- Unwilling to talk or secretive about their online activities and mobile phone use.
- Spending much more or much less time texting, gaming or using social media.
- After texting or being online they may seem withdrawn, upset or outraged.
- Not wanting to go to school and/or avoiding meeting friends and school mates.
- Avoiding formerly enjoyable social situations.
- Difficulty Sleeping.
- Low self-esteem.
What to do if you suspect a child is being cyberbullied
The Department of Education has provided an advice sheet for parents and carers which gives comprehensive guidance on cyberbullying and how to deal with it. Here are some highlights from the report on dealing with cyberbullying.
If you suspect a young person is being harassed or bullied online ask them to give you details.
Encourage your child to talk to you and take it seriously.
Print out the evidence for future reference.
Talk to a teacher at your child’s school if other pupils at the school are involved.
The school community should support all pupils who are bullied and develop strategies to prevent bullying from happening.
It is important that the child is involved in resolving the issues as this can help to strengthen their self-confidence and restore a sense of emotional safety.
Ensure you and your child know how to report any issues when using social networks. For example Facebook has produced a support sheet Empowering Parents and Families which gives guidance on what do if your child is being bullied.
The UK Safer Internet Centre works with social networking sites to disseminate their safety and reporting tools.
The Anti-Bullying Alliance has put together a factsheet outlining the range of support that is available to schools, parents, carers and young people from the anti-bullying sector.
Source: Department for Education
Advice for parents and carers on cyberbullying. November 2014