Cyberbullying is also known as online bullying. It has become more and more common, especially among teenagers, as the digital sphere has developed and technology has advanced. Harmful bullying behavior can include posting rumors, threats, sexual remarks, victim’s personal information, or derogatory labels. Cyberbullying comes in many forms but the most common are:
- receiving intentionally hurtful text messages, emails or direct messages on social media sites
- people spreading rumours or lies about someone online
- people sending images or videos intended to humiliate or embarrass someone
- people sending threats to someone
- people setting up and using fake online profiles to embarrass or intimidate someone.
Effects of Cyberbullying
If you are worried that your child or a loved one might be the victim of cyber bullying here are some signs to look out for:-
- Low self confidence.
- Withdrawal from family and spending a lot of time alone.
- Reluctance to let parents or other family members anywhere near their mobiles, laptops etc.
- Finding excuses to stay away from school or work including school refusal.
- Friends disappearing or being excluded from social events.
- Losing weight.
- Fresh marks on the skin that could indicate self-harm and dressing differently such as wearing long sleeved clothes in the summer to hide any marks.
- A change in personality i.e. depression, crying, withdrawn.
What To Do:
- Reinforce that no one deserves to be treated in this way and that they have done nothing wrong.
- Ensure that they know that there is help available to them.
- Encourage them to talk to a teacher that they trust so they feel they have somewhere safe at school to go to.
- Encourage them to talk to their parents/carers and if this isn’t possible to write a letter or speak to another family member.
- Take screen shots of the cyber bullying so that they have proof this is happening.
- Report all abuse to the relevant social media networks by clicking on the “report abuse” button.
- Keep a diary so they have somewhere safe and private to write down their innermost thoughts and feelings which will help to avoid feelings bottling up.
- Give praise for being so brave and talking things through which will hopefully empower them to take responsibility and get help.
- Sending abuse by email or posting it into a web board can be harassment and if this has happened make a complaint to the police who can trace IP addresses etc.
- Ask the school if they have a School Liaison Police Officer that can help in this situation and talk to the school about the dangers and effects.