If we think back to our own childhoods, there may have been times children will have said mean or hurtful things and now is no different. If this happeneds with your child, the first thing parents should do is:
1. Firstly take time to praise them for telling you. If we want to help, we have to create a culture of trust and this won't happen if we jump in with two feet and over-react.
2. Take time to understand the thread of the conversation. So often online, one comment can be misunderstood which leads to more hurtful comments being made in response - whether that be immediately or a few days after. No matter how unintentional your child's own comments are, it may be that we need to understand how they were interpreted by the other child.
3. Do not respond online. Many of us will have seen facebook threads where conversations have escalted by people trying to solve problems online. Instead, if your child is normally a friend with this person, encourage them to talk about the conversation with them.
4. Save the evidence. This way, if needed, you can seek support from the school. However, please ensure the whole thread of converation is saved and not just the hurtful remark.
5. Seek support. The school will always seek to support children in making the right choices by educating them about the consequences of their words or actions. If you are able to inform the school, we can often help the children to become more responsibe online and understand why their actions weren't acceptable.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is being cruel to others by sending or posting harmful material or engaging in other forms of social aggression using the Internet or other digital technologies and it can take different forms:
- Flaming – Online fights using electronic messages with angry and vulgar language.
- Harassment – Repeatedly sending nasty, mean, and insulting messages.
- Denigration – “Dissing” someone online. Sending or posting gossip or rumours about a person to damage his or her reputation or friendships.
- Impersonation – Pretending to be someone else and sending or posting material to get that person in trouble or danger or to damage that person’s reputation or friendships.
- Outing – Sharing someone’s secrets or embarrassing information or images online.
- Trickery – Talking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information, then sharing it online.
- Exclusion – Intentionally and cruelly excluding someone from an online group.
- Cyberstalking – Repeated, intense harassment and denigration that includes threats or creates significant fear.
Roles in Cyberbullying
If a child has been involved in cyberbullying, they usually take on one of these roles:
- Bullies – “put-downers” who harass and demean others, especially those they think are different or inferior, or “get-backers” who have been bullied by others and are using the internet to retaliate or vent their anger
- Targets – the targets of the cyberbully, who in some cases may be the bullies at school and in other cases, the targets.
- Harmful bystanders – those who encourage and support the bully or watch the bullying from the side-lines, but do nothing to intervene or help the target.
- Helpful bystanders – those who seek to stop the bullying, protest against it, provide support to the target, or tell an adult.