CyberbullyingSince the launch of the Internet, the face of bullying has taken on a distinctive new profile. Often, the physical signs of bullying are now replaced by psychological scars which run much deeper than the visible evidence. Children have access to a wealth of new technologies ranging from mobile phones to YouTube, and there seem to be ever more ways for the resourceful bully to harness the negative possibilities of the world wide web to publicize their actions.

Cyberbullying can take many forms, many of which can be very tough to spot for parents, professionals and child support workers. These can range from actions such as posting up rude, cruel or threatening messages on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, to posting photos of classmates online. Some bullies will go to extraordinary lengths to victimize other children, setting up websites with derogatory comments about peers, cataloguing physical acts of bullying and sharing them with friends, or breaking in to e-mail accounts to send embarrassing or vicious material to other people.

stop cyberbullying

ANONYMITY PRODUCES BOLD BEHAVIOR

Cyberbullying can be more damaging than traditional forms of victimization, as the web is a global platform, and information can often be difficult to retrieve and remove once it has been circulated online. The very nature of online communications is that they can be published anonymously, increasing the perceived threat of negative messages for the victim.

Given the covert nature of much of what takes place in cyberspace, how do we remain alert to the incidents of cyberbullying that children can fall victim to, spotting the signs and taking corrective or preventative action? Follow these simple steps to remain alert and vigilant to signs of cyberbullying, and take action to prevent it…

 

  • Talk openly to children about the effects of cyberbullying, and create a responsive and proactive environment where children feel comfortable discussing any incidents which may take place online
  • Share resources such as www.stopbullying.gov, www.cyberbully411.org, http://www.youtube.com/t/safety and Childline
  • Set up blocks to deter cyberbullies from sharing or circulating unwanted or offensive material
  • Be alert to the signs of cyberbullying – children who are the victims of online harassment are more than twice as likely as other kids to suffer with depression or introversion
  • Teach students to respect the privacy and rights of people in an online environment, making it clear that cyberbullying has the same (or higher) negative impact upon people who are victimized
  • Make it clear that cyberbullying constitutes an illegal activity, for which there can be very serious consequences.


TALKING REALLY WORKS

By discussing the effects of cyberbullying with peer groups, students and parents, it’s often possible to create an open environment of support and vigilance, where every teacher or child worker is alert to the effects of cyberbullying and know how to put a stop to it. Similarly, an environment where students feel comfortable discussing incidents of cyberbullying with teachers, parents of support workers goes a long way to bringing covert acts out in to the open, giving us the opportunity to put a stop to the victimization and support kids on the receiving end of negative uses of the internet.

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Writer: Jennifer Syrkiewicz

Bio: Jen is a published author (two novels, one volume of poetry), who has studied English in the UK at Sussex, East Anglia and then York university. She earned a diploma in journalism, NLP practitioner status, Prince2 qualifications. She’s also the mother of a very cute little girl.
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