Advice on Cyberbullying
The twohundredby200 team are often contacted by parents who are having or have had problems with their child being the victim of cyberbullying.
After seeing the effect that cyberbullying has had on its victims, we decided to put together this brief guide on the steps you should take to prevent such a thing from happening and also, if it has happened, how you can go about complaining about a bully.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying” is when a minor (under the age of 16 years old) is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another minor or minors using the internet via interactive and digital technologies e.g. laptops and smart phones. The terms “cyber-harassment” or “cyberstalking” refer to adult related activity and not to instances relating to minors.
Cyberbullying is usually not a one time communication, unless it involves a death threat or a credible threat of serious bodily harm. Children usually know it when they see it, while parents may be more worried about the lewd language used by the kids than the hurtful effect of rude and embarrassing posts.
How do victims react?
Contrary to what cyberbullies may believe, cyberbullying is a big deal, and can cause a variety of reactions in teens. Some children have reacted in positive ways to try to prevent cyberbullying by;
- Blocking communication with the cyberbully
- Deleting messages without reading them
- Talking to a friend about the bullying
- Reporting the problem to an Internet service provider or website moderator
Many children experience a variety of emotions when they are cyberbullied. Children who are cyberbullied report feeling angry, hurt, embarrassed, or scared. These emotions can cause victims to react in ways such as;
- Seeking revenge on the bully
- Avoiding friends and activities
- Cyberbullying back
Some children feel threatened because they may not know who is cyberbullying them. Although cyberbullies may think they are anonymous, they can be found. If your children are cyberbullied or harassed and need help, save all communication with the cyberbully.
Educating children about the consequences (losing their or their parents ISP or social networking accounts) helps. Teaching them to respect others and to take a stand against bullying of all kinds helps too.
Remember that the Internet is accessed by millions of people all over the world, not just your friends and family. While many Internet users are friendly, some may want to hurt you. Below are some ways to stay cyber-safe:
- Never post or share personal information online (this includes your full name, address, telephone number, school name, parents’ names, credit card number, or National Insurance number) or your friends’ personal information.
- Never share your Internet passwords with anyone. Parents should have a note of any passwords for added security.
- Never allow your child to meet anyone face-to-face whom they only know online.
Be open with your child about the dangers of strangers on the internet.
How can you stop it once it starts?
Because their motives differ, the solutions and responses to each type of cyberbullying incident has to differ too. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” when cyberbullying is concerned.
Cyberbullies who are identified can lose their ISP (internet service provider) and social networking accounts as a terms of service violation and in some cases, if hacking or password and identity theft is involved, it can be a serious criminal matter under UK law.
If your child is cyberbullied while in school then the school concerned can take action against the student(s) responsible in line with their in-house policy. When schools try and get involved by disciplining a student for cyberbullying actions that took place off-campus and outside of school hours they are often exceeding their authority and therefore powerless to take action but however they can most often can offer good advice.
Reporting social network users
If the instances of cyberbullying are taking place through a social network such as Twitter or Facebook, then you should quickly contact the network to lodge a complaint against the cyberbully. Do not delete the offending messages as they will be required as evidence against the cyberbully.
Twitter – For complaints about users on the Twitter network you should firstly visit this support page https://support.twitter.com/articles/15794 where you will be able to read through their policy on abusive behaviour and start the process of reporting a user.
Facebook – Reporting complaints to Facebook is similar to Twitter and you should initially visit this page http://en-gb.facebook.com/help/263149623790594 and follow their reporting process.
There are many more social networks and each are required by law to have some form of reporting process with the links to it most commonly being found within the account control panel or the support areas of their websites.
Reporting abusive behaviour elsewhere on the internet
If the abuse is taking place on a website forum, blog or chat room then you should instantly report the problem to the website moderator or operator. If the bullying is exceptionally abusive and widespread e.g. across several websites, then the Police should also be informed. Although the Police have limited powers, they are able to offer advice on what steps you should take next.
Mobile phone bullying
Bullying can also occur through SMS (text message) and through voice mail. Although this is not as common it does happen and it does have the same effect on its victim. If your child is being bullied via text message, then keep the messages and report the activity to the Police and contact your phone service provider for advice on what steps you should take to halt the abusive calls / messages. (See http://www.o2.co.uk/parents)
If you find the above advice to be slightly confusing or are unsure of the steps to take then the twohundredby200 team are happy to provide free advice on what steps you can take against cyberbullying. You can contact a team member in confidence on 01383 417667 or by emailing or firstname.lastname@example.org We are open Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm.
Other online resources
There are many good organisations on the internet providing advice and support within the UK and we have listed a few below for you to refer to.