- 30,439 children called Childline in 2010/11. 11% of calls were about bullying.
- Between 8% and 34% of children and young people in the UK have been cyber bullied, and girls are twice as likely to experience persistent cyber bullying than boys.
- 38% of young people have been affected by cyber-bullying, with abusive emails (26%) and text messages (24%) being the most common methods.
- 28% of children did not tell anyone about the abuse.
NSPCC Report 2012
Cyber Bullying is a new format of an old problem. When I was bullied in school, no matter how traumatic it was I always knew that I could go home, shut the front door and not deal with it again until the school bus the next day. Our young people have no such safe haven any more. If a child is being Cyber Bullied, it is constant and all around them.
How do you know if your child is being bullied? Look for signs of irritability, anxiousness, changes in eating or sleeping patterns and unwillingness to talk. Are they reluctant to go to school? Don’t dismiss these signs as ‘just being a teenager’. Engage with your child and remember that they will have an opinion of what you are likely to do if they tell you they are being bullied.
They may well believe that your first response will be to take away the technology which enables the bully or bullies to enter our homes in an attempt to protect them. However, whether we like it or not our children live online and in a virtual world which is now so closely aligned to their physical world that depriving them of their phone, laptop of wifi is tantamount to punishing them for the wrong doing of others. Therefore we have to teach our children how to be safe by empowering them with knowledge and this involves learning about people not technology.
We need to admit that our children will always be more au fait with technology but that we have life experiences which can work alongside their knowledge if we have the right conversation with our children. Young people already think that their parents and educators are out of touch in relation to online communities and technology and to an extent they are right. However it is our responsibility to be aware of what platforms they are using to network, we also need to utilise the skills we have as parents – life experience.
The most effective weapon we have in the fight against Cyber Bullying and other forms of online abuse is the ability to have open and honest dialogue with our children. Let your child know that no matter what is going on they can talk to you. Tell them that you will not get angry and take away their technology. Let them know that whatever they tell you will be dealt with in a calm and considered way. Remember that most young people do not tell their parents what is going on because they are worried that the consequences will be worse than the bullying.
If your child feels unable to talk to you, you could direct them to the Kidscape website, ask them to indulge you by having a look and seeing if there is anything on the site that relates to them. Once they have engaged with the information they may be more likely to speak about it. PERSIST! Do not give up or be or be put off. Is there another adult you trust with whom they could share information? They could call Childline 0800 1111.
- Speak to the school, go in and see them.
- Ask them if they have noticed anything and if so what they are doing about it.
- Ask to see their Anti-Bullying Policy.
- Give them some time to deal with the problem but STAY IN TOUCH.
- Ask your child to show you what Social Networking platforms they are using and work with your child to block the bullies.
- Make sure they tell you what security settings they have and ensure that parental controls are in place.
- Encourage your child not to respond.
- If the bullying is or becomes threatening then you can and should report it to the Police. ‘Criminal Harassment’ is a CRIME.
If all else fails then I can recommend calling ‘Kidscape’ Parent helpline on 08451 205 204 or go to their website.
If you would like face to face advice, we hold Internet Safety courses for young people and parents together or parents separately, and these include comprehensive advice about Cyber Bullying.
Safer World Training Ltd
The Old Boathouse
Tel: 0208 780 5982