Cyberbullying is a very real worry for many parents. And with the 24/7 access many kids have to social media, bullying now isn’t just in the confines of the schoolyard, but instead can follow them into the sanctuary of their own home.
The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner defines cyberbullying as:
- Abusive texts and emails
- Hurtful messages, images or videos
- Imitating others online
- Excluding others online
- Humiliating others online
- Nasty online gossip and chat
According to the Queensland government, around one in 10 young people experience cyberbullying at least every few weeks. Most victims of cyberbullying have suicidal thoughts and low self-esteem (according to www.nobullying.com).
It’s a good idea to try and keep an open dialogue with your children about what they are looking at online. While they probably won’t want you looking over their shoulder, make it clear that you are there if they have any concerns.
The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner provides some good tips for children who are experiencing cyberbullying, including:
- Talking to someone they trust straight away, like a parent, sibling, uncle/aunt, teacher or friend, or contact Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.
- Resisting the urge to retaliate or respond, as the bullies might use it against them.
- Blocking the bully and changing their privacy settings. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all have information on their sites about how to do this.
- Reporting the abuse to the site. Again, most social media sites have instructions on how to do this.
- Collecting the evidence: keep mobile phone messages, take screen shots and print emails or social networking conversations.
- Stepping away from the computer and do something they enjoy, like catching up with friends, listening to music, or watching television.
Useful websites and phone lines
The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner Helping young people have safe, positive experiences online. www.esafety.gov.au
NoBullying.com Bullying and cyberbullying facts and advice. nobullying.com
Kids Helpline Free online or phone counselling for young people aged 5 to 25. www.kidshelpline.com.au or 1800 55 1800
Eheadspace Supporting young people and their families who are going through a tough time. www.eheadspace.org.au
For one woman’s brave story of cyberbullying, check out the inspirational story of Lizzie Velasquez – From World’s Ugliest Woman to Anti-Bullying Hero.