For the first time the Church of England has launched social media guidelines in what some might say is a futile bid to stem the tide of online abuse. In Hong Kong, amid on-going protests against the Chinese government’s attempt to strengthen its grip on the ‘independent’ territory, local police and their families, including children, are being targeted with cyber threats. Many school students are now banned from using their phones during school hours to tackle, among other things, cyber bullying.
There is a tide that is turning against cyber bullying as organisations the world over finally acknowledge its ubiquitous pervasiveness and potential for emotional, psychological and even physical damage.
But children and young teens have known about this for years and many have borne the brunt of online abuse and sometimes with tragic consequences. Even in the most invisible cases cyber bullying is often an overwhelming experience for children and teens. And it’s a challenging issue for both children and parents in bringing it to a halt.
Ditch the Label’s UK 2018 Annual Bullying Survey revealed:
  • 35% of children/young adults between the ages of 12-20 frequently experience cyber bullying
  • 37% developed depression as a result of cyber bullying
  • 62% would be unlikely to intervene if they saw somebody cyber bullying somebody else
  • 25% self-harmed because of cyber bullying
  • 68% had been sent a nasty private message
  • 35% of people sent a screenshot of someone’s status or photo to laugh at them in a group chat

How can parents spot the signs?

Children, and teens, often won’t want to talk about cyber bullying if it is happening to them. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed and also isolated in that they believe no one can help them,
Some of the signs that a child is being cyber bullied include acting out with anger at home, withdrawal from friend and family, changes in mood, nervous and touchy when online and secretive and protective of their online life.

Stepping in

It’s not easy to know when and how to step in but if you find out your child is being cyber bullied, take it seriously:
  • Listen and offer help and emphasise that it’s nothing to be ashamed of
  • Provide reassurance that you will always be there for them
  • Gather evidence, report to the online platform and block the bully
  • Talk with teachers, if they can and if appropriate, they will take action
  • Keep talking to your child, stay tuned in with them and listen to what they have to say

Is your child bullying?

It can be difficult to discover your child is a bully. But bullies don’t need demonising, they need help.
  • Find out why is bullying is taking place.  Children and teens can bully when they feel sad, angry, lonely or insecure which could be the result of major changes at home or in the school. 
  • Provide reassurance, be non-judgemental and show how much you value them. This will help them feel supported and be willing to explore ways of working together in order to positively resolve conflicts and tough situations.
Whether bullied or bullying there are many online resources that provide help and support.
An internet search will help you discover organisations in your region dedicated to raising awareness about cyber bullying, how to manage it and how to stop it.