Conflict between young people is a normal part of growing up, cyberbullying is not
- Cyberbullying is bullying that uses electronic means like the internet or mobile phones to aggressively and intentionally harm someone
- Cyberbullying can include name calling, abusive comments, spreading rumours, threats of physical harm, being ignored or excluded, having opinions slammed, online impersonation, being sent rude or upsetting images, or having personal information or images sent or shared with others
- Cyberbullying is most common in late primary school and early high school and up to half of all young people have experienced it
Cyberbullying can be difficult for parents to detect because it's covert
Here are some things you might notice your child doing if they're being cyberbullied.
You might feel lost and unsure about what you can do to help your child with cyberbullying
Take the time to talk to them. Be open to listening and understanding their experience of cyberbullying.
Take the cyberbullying seriously
Help them identify what cyberbullying is
Find out details about the cyberbullying
Reassure them that they're loved
Find out how your child has reacted to it
Teach them about power dynamics that underlie bullying behaviour
Work together to figure out ways they can take back power from those bullying
Involve them in decision making at home to increase their sense of power and control
Role model calmly managing your own emotions
Create opportunities to expand their support friendships
Support them to speak to another trusted adult or counsellor
Advise them to avoid opening emails or responding to the cyberbullying
Respect that they may not want to limit online access as this can seem like a punishment and lead to greater social isolation
There are a number of actions you could take to stop the cyberbullying from continuing.
Consider talking through the following options together:
Notifying the school of the cyberbullying
Find out more about the school’s anti-bullying policies
Help them to keep a record of the bullying in case it needs to be reported
Reporting serious cases of cyberbullying to the Police - cyber stalking, which is repeated harassment usually containing threatening messages with the aim to intimidate and create fear, is a crime and should always be reported
Help your child to “call out” the behaviour of the ‘bully’
Encourage them to use statements like “You are going too far – this is bullying and I want you to stop”
Suggest your child ‘block’ or remove the bully from their friend list and change their username or mobile number
Help them file a complaint with the website manager
Help them spend some time away from the computer and mobile phone by increasing their options for doing other fun activities
Follow up after your child tries a solution to see how it went
“I feel so unqualified to help my child with cyberbullying. When I was younger, bullies didn’t hide behind a screen or come into your house uninvited” - Ally, parent of children 7 and 10 year old
Cyberbullying is serious and can have long lasting impacts on your child
This type of bullying can be hard for kids to escape. It follows them home and doesn’t end when the school day finishes. Its impacts can be devastating.
As a parent, you're not alone in supporting your child to manage cyberbullying. If you're struggling with this issue, call the Parentline service in your State or Territory and talk through your options with a counsellor.
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