How to effectively deal with CyberBullying
To support #AntiBullyingWeek, the London-based private tutoring agency Tutor House has come up with its own tips and advice on how to effectively deal with CyberBullying, and what parents and teachers should look out for when dealing with a suspected victim.
What is CyberBullying?
With the rise of technology it no longer means that bullying is limited to playgrounds, street corners and classrooms anymore. With all out access to smart phones, social networking sites and online forums bullying can happen to anyone, anywhere and anytime without stepping outside of the home.
The BBC reported that over a fifth of children have witnessed a classmate or friend being bullied online. They also recently covered a story of one child’s experience with CyberBullying. Although turning a negative into a positive, the teenager now helps others overcome their online bullies.
The effects of CyberBullying are devastating and can make children feel hurt, angry, helpless, isolated and even, in extreme cases, feel suicidal. Online bullying can even be more harrowing than face-to-face bullying because:
1. CyberBullying can be anonymous. Bullies feel that by using online channels to target victims they’re less likely to get caught and as a consequence the bullying can be more severe.
2. CyberBullying can be done anywhere, anytime and by anyone. As if face-to-face bullying in school playgrounds, classrooms or street corners wasn’t enough, now victims can be targeted within the sanctity of their own homes. It can seem like there’s no escape from the taunting and humiliation.
3. CyberBullying can be social. With social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, CyberBullying can now be witnessed by potentially thousands of people. What’s worse is that these provocative messages and taunts stay up for all to see way beyond just a few words in the playground.
How to deal with CyberBullying:
If online bullies have targeted you, it’s so important not to respond to any messages written to or about you. Responding will often make the situation worse, and can fuel the bullies to spur on and continue their verbal assault.
Just as importantly, you should never seek revenge on a CyberBully or sink to their level. This will put you in the wrong, and will only make the problem worse, and could even result in legal consequences for the both of you.
Instead, here are some ideas for how you should handle the matter:
1. Report the threats, taunting and harm to someone you trust. What may seem like casual bullying to you may actually turn out to be offensive or be deemed as dangerous. In which case, the police may need to be involved. In more and more circumstances, the police have to become involved in cases of severe online bullying.
2. Prevent all communication with the CyberBully. Block their E-Mail address, mobile phone number and delete them from all your social media accounts. The key here is to remove all avenues in which the bully can communicate with you online. Bullies are cowards, especially online, and if you remove their direct lines of communication with you, they will hopefully give up and stop the abuse.
3. Save all the evidence. Keep all abusive messages or screenshots of all instances of bullying, and then report them to a trusted adult or someone that you feel can help you. If the bullying is left unreported, that gives the bully the opportunity to continue and usually become more aggressive.
4. Keep Going! Unfortunately bullying is rarely limited to just a couple of incidents. Bullies are often as relentless as they come, but as long as you keep reporting them, gathering evidence and limit their communication with you, even the most relentless bully will give up.
5. Unplug from technology. In this day and age that statement sounds crazy right? How else could you possibly know what Grandma had for dinner on Tuesday? Well, unplugging yourself from technology for a couple of weeks allows you to live your life away from the sometimes-harsh cyber world.
Every case of bullying is different, and there’s no foolproof solution for preventing or stopping bullying that suits everyone. However, all victims of bullying whether it’s face-to-face or online should always remember the following things:
1. Get Help. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone on this one. Bullying is a disgraceful act of cruelty, and is not tolerated under any circumstances. You can always talk to a parent, teacher, brother, sister or any trusted adult.
2. It’s not your fault. Never be ashamed of who you are, and never blame yourself for what’s happening to you. It doesn’t matter what a CyberBully says, they’re the ones with the problem – not you!
3. Try to forget about it. We understand that it’s not as easy as that, sure. But the more time you spend with your friends and family doing the things that you enjoy, the easier it will be for you to manage.
4. Life will get better. No matter how low a CyberBully has made you feel, just remember that it won’t last forever and life will get better. For every bully out there, there are ten wonderful people who treat you for who you are – you just need to find them!
5. You’re not alone. Whilst every case of bullying is personal and effects different people in different ways, just remember that there’s always someone out there you can talk to who understands and has been through similar experiences as you.
How to spot if your child or friend is being bullied:
No matter how painful it is, children often suffer in silence without sharing their horrible experiences with friends, family of trusted adults like teachers and councillors.
Whilst parents should monitor the online activities of their children in some way, it’s important to remember not to punish a child that’s been a victim of CyberBullying. Watch out for these signs, and reach out to your friend / child if you recognise any of the following:
1. Withdraws from family, friends and all activities they previously enjoyed.
2. Refuses to go or skips school and avoids going to extracurricular group activities.
3. Becomes angry, aggressive or inexplicably sad or distressed.
4. Increased levels of anxiety and upset.
5. Lower school grades or increases absences from school.
It’s increasingly becoming more important to recognise the implications of CyberBullying and to prevent it before it does lasting serious damage to young people.
Stay safe with technology and encourage your children to effectively refuse and prevent CyberBullying in all cases. Prevent the problem before it starts or grows by blocking communications with online bullies and speaking with the bully’s parents.