In our recent national bullying survey, 56% of young people said they have seen others be bullied online and 42% have felt unsafe online.
Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and it can go viral very fast. If someone posts abuse about anyone else online or sends threats, they can be traced by the police without any difficulty.
Keep safe by using unusual passwords, using a combination of letters, lowercase, uppercase, symbols and numbers. Being bullied online can affect someone enormously. Being bullied can impact on a person’s self-esteem, confidence and social skills. In many cases those who are bullied have had to leave school, work and social networks to escape this.
Try to consider the impact your words may have. Think twice before you post anything online because once it’s out there you can’t take it back. It is easy for any comments or posts you make online to be taken out of context and these could be damaging to you in the long term.
For more information, advice or support, please visit www.bullying.co.uk.
Nishma Shah, Web Communities Co-ordinator, Family Lives
Bullying UK, part of Family Lives, provides anti-bullying support and advice all year round to anyone who is experiencing bullying via our helpline, online advice and anti-bullying campaigns and projects.
My name is Nishma Shah and I have worked for Bullying UK/Family Lives for 10 years. I have experience of working with young people on bullying issues and have been a family support worker for many years supporting anyone who has experienced bullying. I also write about bullying and lead on some of our anti-bullying campaigns.
If yourself, your child or a friend frequently use the Internet, the following tips will help you minimise the chances of victimisation:
If you are the victim of cyberbullying:
Counselling Directory was set up in 2005 by two sisters who struggled to find a counsellor for a friend in need. Driven by their desire to help people find support, Counselling Directory, a website where you can search for a counsellor in your local area, was born. We now have thousands of counsellors on our directory as well as informative content to help our visitors - wherever they are on their journey.
Using their research skills, personal experiences and professional guidance, the content team at Counselling Directory created a range of fact-sheets to help both those being bullied, and those with the power to stop it, to take action.
Acts of cyberbullying and other electronic aggression have caused a great deal of suffering that can and must be prevented. Our job as parents, educators, and other caring adults is to teach the young people in our care how to be a good digital citizen and to insist that they demonstrate an ongoing commitment to using technology wisely and safely.
The following seven steps for preventing and stopping cyberbullying are from Kidpower’s bullying solutions book, Bullying – What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe.
1) Discuss the problems caused by cyberbullying and other electronic aggression
Ask kids who are actively using technology for communication or entertainment what they already know about cyberbullying. They usually have a lot of information and strong ideas. Ask if this has ever happened to them or anyone they know. Look for examples in the media and discuss the harm done by different kinds of electronic aggression.
Here’s what young people need to know:
2) Make a commitment with young people to be good digital citizens
At Kidpower, we recommend that responsible adults say clearly to the children and teens in their care: “You have the right to be treated with safety and respect everywhere and with everyone – and you have the responsibility to act safely and respectfully towards yourself and others. This includes being a good digital citizen in all activities using technology such as computers and smartphones to interact through social media, gaming, texting, etc.”
State your values and expectations clearly. Treat the use of computers for anything except schoolwork as a privilege, not a right. Treat the use of mobile phones for anything except for emergencies and communication with responsible adults as a privilege rather than a right.
For children and teens, the responsibility that goes with the right to use technology independently is to stay in charge of what they say and do, to tell you about problems, and to get your agreement in advance about any changes.
We recommend a written digital citizenship and technology use contract that kids sign with their parents and that can be updated each year. To learn more, see our digital citizenship safety agreement.
3) Stay aware of and involved with what your kids are doing
Spend time with your children and teens both online and everywhere else. Make sure that you are doing lots of real-world activities.
Explain that any text messages, social media posts, and use of computers can easily become public to the world and insist that these activities be public to you as well.
If you don’t understand exactly what your child is doing with technology, then have this young person teach you by leading the way and letting you be a co-pilot. If you are busy with technology yourself, remember to stop what you are doing and pay attention to your kids!
Otherwise, you can be sitting side by side, each looking at your own smartphones or computers, and not notice what your child is seeing or writing.
4) Be careful about the use of personal information
Use privacy settings but don’t count on them. Remember that anything shared electronically with anyone can be shared publicly by anyone you send it to.
Unless this is within a secure system of people who know each other, such as a school, avoid allowing children to post personal information or photos in an online friend’s community, chat group, Instagram, Facebook, or anywhere else.
5) Give consequences if kids cyberbully
If young people in your life do something hurtful to another person either online or in person, have them apologise and make amends.
Figure out what mistakes they made that led up to the problem, and coach them through a practice of making safer choices instead.
Often, loss of the privilege to use the technology involved for a specific period of time is the most appropriate consequence.
In addition, have kids do something active to make amends such as mail a handwritten letter of apology, do some research about the harm done by cyberbullying and write a paper, or do some volunteer work to make our world a better place.
6) Provide support if a child is cyberbullied
The anonymous nature and widespread distribution of cyberbullying can be devastating. If a young person in your care is facing cyberbullying, provide emotional support by saying, “I am so sorry this is happening to you and so proud of you for having the courage to tell me. This is not your fault, and we are going to do what we can to make it stop.”
Demand action to correct the problem from school authorities, your Internet provider or mobile phone company, the social media platform, and, if necessary, the police. If your child seems traumatised by what happened, see: https://www.kidpower.org/blog/5-recommendations-to-help-a-child-recover-from-severe-bullying/
7) Teach kids skills for staying safe online and everywhere else
Kidpower's social safety skills for staying safe with and around people are relevant both online and in real world situations.
Young people are far less likely to have problems with cyberbullying if they have practiced how to stay aware, recognize what is and is not safe, move away from trouble, protect their feelings, stay in charge of what they say and do no matter how they feel inside, set clear and appropriate boundaries, and be persistent in getting help from busy adults. To learn more, see: https://www.kidpower.org/library/article/online-safety/
Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International is a global nonprofit leader dedicated to providing empowering and effective child protection, positive communication, and social safety skills for all ages, abilities, backgrounds, and walks of life. Since 1989, these skills have helped to protect over 4.4 million children, teens, and adults, including those with special needs, from bullying, abuse, violence, prejudice, and other maltreatment through workshops, partnerships, and educational resources.
Irene van der Zande, Kidpower International Executive Director and Founder of KidPower
The old adage: If you're not moving forward, you're falling behind.
Keep up to date with changes in Government legislation, anti-bullying initiatives such as awareness days, and causes of unnecessary psychological trauma like FOMO or Fear of Missing Out which can lead to internet addiction and vulnerability to cyber bullying.
A broad-based knowledge of modern trends can help you and your child keep motivated and in control of your presence on the internet. For this type of news, practical coping suggestions and motivational tips visit leading anti-bullying charity Act Against Bullying.
Louise Burfitt-Dons, Founder and CEO of Act Against Bullying