As our connected world grows, so too will Cyber Bullying.
It’s not news that young people being affected bullying online is on the increase within our communities. Let’s take stock:
- 30,439 children called Childline in 2010/11. 11% of calls were about bullying.
- Between 8% and 34% of children and young people in the UK have been cyber bullied, and girls are twice as likely to experience persistent cyber bullying than boys.
- 38% of young people have been affected by cyber-bullying, with abusive emails (26%) and text messages (24%) being the most common methods.
- 28% of children did not tell anyone about the abuse.
Source NSPCC Report 2012
The child or young person being bullied in the schoolyard is now more likely not to escape the bully at all due to the virtual connected world, which we now live in. Cyber Bullying is now becoming common amongst young people and is rife on many well-known social platforms. Recent tragedies involving suicides of young people who have been bullied have highlighted this in the media.
In my opinion ‘real’ action is now needed. So as Parents & Educators how can we help keep our children safe online and develop awareness and educational programmes which will help tackle this growing problem within our society.
Below I have outlined some practical tips aimed at helping both Parents & Educators
- Awareness from the parents & educators perspective – When it comes to online activity many young people already think that their parents and educators are out of touch in relation to online communities and technology it’s therefore paramount that we spend time researching the platforms which our young people might be using, watching out for tell tale signs which might mean a young person is being Cyber Bullied or involved in it.
- What goes online stays online – Remind young people particularly teenagers that what goes online will stay there – information posted on forums, chartroom’s, blogs, social network website event IMs (Instant Messages) can be made public. Saying something in a private message has the potential not to stay private and can be cut and pasted on other peoples walls so encourage young people to be carful and highlight the dangers to them.
- Thinking before revealing – Teach them to be careful of the content they place online, and if possible keep an eye on pictures both inappropriate and not which are being posted and shared online. Remind young people that other people can misuse things posted online.
- Encourage an online code of conduct – Create & develop a code of conduct, which young people can use to model their online behaviour. The code of conduct can include real practical tips on how they behave online it can also outline aspects of negative behaviour and potential consequences as a result.
- Remind them to ask for help – just because many young people believe they are more savvy online than older people does not mean they can’t ask for help or talk about an issue which they have experienced online. Encourage young people to speak out about unsafe behaviour online or if they feel something is taking place, which is affecting them or one of their friends.