Dealing with cyberbullying
Cyber or online bullying can be a very distressing experience for young people. It involves them being subjected to bullying online through any internet connected device such as computers, laptops, tablets or mobile phones. Approximately 1 in 4 children will experience cyber bullying at some point during their childhood so it’s important to know what to do if your child is a victim of this.
Spotting the signs
As everyone deals with bullying differently and bullying incidents vary in type and severity, there is not a definitive list of things to look out for however some of the following signs might show you that something isn’t right and prompt you to probe further:
- A change in online habits (not wanting to go online / going online all of the time).
- Becoming defensive or private about online activity.
- A change in emotional or physical presentation.
- A change in sleep routines.
- Not wanting to go to school or out in the community.
- Signs of physical bullying may also be present as online bullying can be a continuation of physical bullying incidents.
What to do if my child is being bullied online
Whether your child has told you that they are being bullied online or whether you have found out for yourself, it’s important to take time to think about the best way to deal with the problem before you act. Offer plenty of reassurance to your child and make it clear that it’s not their fault and that the problem can be sorted. Try and involve your child in the process where appropriate.
The first step is for you or your child to block the accounts/profiles that have been involved in the cyberbullying. Avoid deleting any messages or comments when you block the accounts or perhaps screenshot them in advance in case you need them later. Most apps/websites will have the function to block (and report) accounts that have been involved in cyberbullying – a quick check on a search engine will offer advice on how to do this if you’re not sure.
If the bullying involves young people that your child has contact with in other places such as at school or in sports clubs/groups for example, it may be worth raising your concerns with them to make sure that the online bullying doesn’t continue there too.
Where you think a crime has been committed, it may be appropriate for you to contact the police. If you’re unsure, you can contact the police using the non-emergency number (101) who will be able to offer advice on whether it’s a matter for the police or not.
If your child is reluctant to discuss what’s going on, or if they need more information, advice or support, you could show them the cyberbullying section of this website which you can find here.
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