Cyberbullying is any bullying behaviour that takes place virtually. It can be harassment or humiliation over text, social media or any type of technology from one person to another.
- It can come in multiple forms; verbal, emotional, and may lead to physical.
- A couple of examples would be: creating a fake account to be a catfish (a catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they aren’t to pursue a deceptive romance) or spreading a false rumouron Facebook.
It can be extremely distressing to discover that your child is being bullied – or indeed is the bully, however, we are here to help. Under this SafeToNet advice and guidance we will tell you what critical signs to look out for, how our software can help identify it, how do help your child.
Signs to Look Out for and Implications
- Device Usage
- Sudden increase or decrease in device usage – SafeToNet Statistics feature could help you spot this.
- Doesn’t use device in a place where you can see it.
- Turns off or changes phone screen every time you walk past.
- Physical Habits
- Change in appetite.
- Trouble sleeping at night.- N.B. you might want to think of disabling their device using SafeToNet at night to avoid any device usage temptation or preventing your child receiving/sending abusive content.
- Appears nervous when on their device.
- Jumpy when notifications are received.
- Unwillingness to share information.
- – again, this could be apparent is SafeToNet Statistics.
- Seems uneasy about going to school or pretends to be ill.
- Mental Health & Implications
- Decreased self-esteem.
- Feeling worthless.
- Suicidal feelings.
- Unexplained or random anger.
- Grades are fluctuating at school.
- Increased absences.
- Loss of interests.
- Seems quiet or withdrawn.
What Should Parents Do?
- STEP 1. Firstly, talk to your child. Explain to them what bullying is and what it makes people feel like. Ask your child if anything like this is happening to them and what it makes them feel like. If your child discloses that they are being bullied speak calmly and reassuringly to them and discuss what steps should be taken next. Listen. Your child may feel an array of emotions, and make sure they know that they can talk to you at any point in time. Ask your child what they have already tried to do to stop it.
- STEP Keep talking to your child, reassuring them that they have done the right thing in telling you about the cyberbullying. Continuously take notes of what your child says, especially names, dates, what happened, and where it happened. Give your child some options to help – let them know about resources such as Childlike and other anonymous ways to contact a counsellor. If your child is displaying signs of mental distress, you should take them to a GP. Tell the GP how the cyberbullying is affecting your child and, if necessary, ask the GP for a sick note which will give your child authorised absence from school.
- STEP Tell a school teacher what has been happening and what your child has tried to do to stop it. Ask for a copy of the school’s Anti-Bullying Policy or Behavioural Policy, and ask for clarity on how the school handles incidents. Take notes of all meetings that take place.
- STEP 4.If you are not satisfied with the school teacher’s response, you should organise an appointment with the head teacher. Ask for a copy of the school’s complaints policy, and refer to the school’s anti-bullying policy when meeting the head teacher. If you haven’t already done so, take your child to the GP and inform them about the cyberbullying so that it can be documented.
- STEPIf you are not satisfied with the action taken by the head teacher, make a formal written complaint to the schools governing body.
- STEP If you are not satisfied with the response from the governing body, you can write a complaint to the Education Funding Agency or the Department of Education if the school is a free school; the local authority, if the school is a maintained school; or the Academy Trust or Education Funding Agency and the Secretary of State, if the school is an Academy.
Also– Help your child to take a time out from technology. Teach them about online safety and privacy settings. See our video on how to set your privacy settings. If you haven’t already done so install SafeToNet to help give you a better insight to their online behavioural patterns.
What Parents Shouldn’t Do
- Don’t “Just ignore it”.
- Don’t blame your child.
- Don’t reciprocate the action.
- Don’t contact the bully or the bully’s family.
What Can Children Do?
- RECOGNISE IT. Cyberbullying comes in many different forms such as abusive comments; sharing photos, videos, or personal information; hacking; creating dedicated websites that intend to harm, and pressuring someone to do something such as sending sexually explicit photos.
- FIND THE CAUSE. Who is behind it? Why have they targeted you? Keep the evidence; without proof, it will be hard to make a complaint.
- REPORT IT. Unless you report it, it is very unlikely to stop. Children can start by talking to their parents/guardians or someone they trust. The next steps will be to report it to their school and the service providers. Finally, report it to the police if the forms of bullying are threatening phone calls or messages.
How to report the bully’s profile?
INSTAGRAM & FACEBOOK:Go to the user’s profile page, select the ‘more’ option, and report the user.
TWITTER:Go to the user’s profile page, select the ‘settings’ option, and report the user.
SNAPCHAT: Go to the user’s snap story, hold your thumb on the screen, then click on the flag in the bottom left-hand corner, and report the user.
- PREVENT IT.Don’t respond, this will only escalate the situation. You should block the bullies and increase your privacy settings.
How do I block the bully’s profile?
INSTAGRAM & FACEBOOK:Go to the user’s profile page, select the ‘more’ option, and block the user.
TWITTER:Go to the user’s profile page, select the ‘settings’ option, and block the user.
SNAPCHAT:Go to the user’s profile page by typing their name in the search bar, click on their profile icon then click the more tab in the top left-hand corner, and block the user.
What should I do if I suspect my child is a cyberbully?
- STEP 1:Talk to your child and try to understand why this is happening. Try make them aware that their behaviour is potentially very harmful. They may not realise they are doing it.
- STEP 2: Help them understand how the other child may have felt.
- STEP 3: Explain the potential consequences of their actions. You may want to talk to their school, or discipline them accordingly.
- STEP 4:Let them know that they can come to you if they have any questions in the future.
Anti-Bullying Alliance – parent interactive online tool – (PARENT)
NSPCC: 0808 800 5000 www.nspcc.org.uk (PARENT)
CHILDLINE: 0800 1111 www.childline.org.uk (CHILD)
Direct Gov here: (CHILD)
Bullying UK: 0808 800 2222 www.familylives.org.uk (PARENT & CHILD)
The Diana Award: www.diana-award.org.uk (PARENT & CHILD)