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This page added 2nd June 2012

By Aly (ADAVIC Volunteer)

School bullying has been the focus of much research over the last few decades. However, a new form of bullying known as cyber bullying has now become increasingly recognised and investigated in the 21st century. With the advent of modern forms of communication, students are beginning to use technology such as home computers and mobile phones to bully their peers. Although there are still many debilitating consequences with traditional bullying methods (at school), the victims are fortunately able to come home and be safe from the taunting and teasing of their bullies. Now, with bullies making their way online, some victims feel they have no safe place, because the bullying can happen anywhere - through internet or mobile access. It can also happen at any time of the day or night.

Moreover, cyber bullying can have deleterious effects on a child’s mental health. In particular, it can leave teenagers with low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, less interest in school, a deep sense of loneliness, self-harming and, in some cases, suicide.

Recently, there has been much media attention concerning this topic and its relationship to suicide. It is unknown whether other factors play a part, but cyber bullying is a contributing element in teen suicide. Many were affected by Sheniz Erkan’s suicide, a victim of cyber-bulling who was sadly too afraid to speak up. Interestingly, a third of those who experience cyber bullying do not report it. If we are to succeed in preventing bullying, we need to break the climate of silence in which it thrives by empowering children and young people to speak out and seek help.

Cyber bullying can be tough to spot. Many young people who are being bullied don’t want to tell teachers or parents, perhaps because they feel ashamed or they worry about losing their computer privileges at home. Parents often tell their children to turn off the mobile phones or stay off the computer. Many parents don’t understand that the internet and mobile phone act as a social lifeline for teenagers to their peer group.

As a parent, you might find it hard to keep up with the different technologies your child uses. Or you might not know how to bring up the subject of cyber bullying.

Some warning signs that your child might be a victim of cyber bullying include:

  • Being upset during or after using the internet
  • Withdrawing from friends and activities
  • Being more moody than usual, or showing obvious changes in behaviour, sleep or appetite
  • Spending much longer than usual online, or refusing to use the computer at all
  • Exiting or clicking out of a computer activity if a person walks by
  • Avoiding school or group gatherings
  • Bringing home lower marks than usual
  • ‘Lashing out’ in anger at home
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Feeling sick or complaining of frequent headaches or stomach aches.

Some steps for parents to follow to help prevent cyber bullying are:

  • Making sure the household computer is placed in a central location in the home and not in the child’s room where its use cannot be monitored properly.
  • Allocate times where children are allowed to go on the computer, for example, 30mins before/after dinner.
  • Have weekly family discussion sessions, such as sitting around the table for dinner and talk about how school is going etc.
  • Select schools which have a zero tolerance to bullying.  

Tips for people experiencing bullying:

  • Talk to your parents or someone else you trust, about what is going on; don’t try to deal with the situation on your own
  • Print or save all emails, text messages, or chat conversations where the bully interacts with you
  • Report bullying to your parents, school teacher, Internet Service Provider (ISP), or police if it continues
  • Use privacy options on Facebook and MySpace
  • Change your mobile number and block your number ID in future to prevent it being recorded when making calls with general phone use

Some other resources for people who are/know victims of cyber bullying and need support/help:


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