Bullying is no longer something that only happens face to face. In the past, bullying may have happened at school, in the playground or in local social clubs, now it can happen anywhere. Due to the increased use of mobile phones, email, social networks and other chat based websites cyber bullying has risen dramatically as targets become more accessible. Cyber bullying can happen 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.
Cyber bullying happens when one or more individuals tease, threaten, harass or embarrass another person through use of technology – often allowing the bully to remain anonymous. The technology itself is of no danger – rather it is down to the use the technology is put to and often it is other children who partake in these cruel and vindictive acts. Escaping from cyber bullying can be hard due to the 24/7 nature of the internet and victims can be left feeling very isolated, distressed, lonely and vulnerable.
Top Tips for Parents – How to identify if your child is a victim of cyber bullying
You may have noticed that your normally happy vibrant child has become withdrawn and moody but refuses to talk to you about what is bothering them. Significant increases in messages to their mobile phone may also be an indicator that they are being victimised by cyber bullies. So it is important that you -
- Talk to your child about responsible online behaviour
- Let your child know that if anything online bothers them, makes them feel upset or worried they can talk to you about it.
- It is extremely important to remind your child that once a comment or image is posted or a message sent online you cannot take it back.
- Teenagers need to consider the impact that anything they do or say on line may have on their future career.
Top Tips for Victims
- You shouldn’t have to face bullying or cyber bullying alone – talk to someone you know and trust such as a parent, carer or teacher. They can help you overcome bullying and be there to listen to you as well as report anything serious.
- It is extremely important to talk things though with someone – it can make you feel less isolated, more confident and put you back in control of the situation.
- Keep a copy of any abusive messages that you receive and record the send date/time.
- Keeping records can help the Police investigate if a bully’s activities overstep the line – particularly if the bullying has racial or sexual harassment connotations.
- Never reply to messages that you receive. It will simply encourage the bullies and result in further upset.
Have your say – should the police commit more resources to investigating cyber bullying or sexual/racial harassment on line or do they already have too much work?