By Leigh M.
With the rise of technology and increasing amounts of time being spent online on social media, cyberbullying has now become a huge global issue. According to the Cyberbullying Statistics 2019 global cyberbullying awareness is now at 75%, so while awareness has spread considerably, there is still some work to be done.
One of the biggest concerns is that many young people will suffer in silence, as the 2019 statistics show that only about 38% of young people who are victims of cyberbullying will admit it to their parents. So this is something that can unfortunately slip under the radar undetected. All young people are vulnerable to cyberbullying, whether they go to school or are homeschooled, so it is important that parents are clued up on the ins and outs of cyberbullying and potential signs that your child may be affected.
Cyberbullying can affect anyone
Cyberbullying can be defined as “the use of digital technologies with an intent to offend, humiliate, threaten, harass or abuse somebody”. It is possible for anybody to become a victim of cyberbullying, regardless of how old they are. But young people at school are particularly vulnerable to it because they are exposed to so many of their peers at school and online, and spending so much time on social media certainly doesn’t help the issue, which is why internet use should always be regulated and minimised by parent’s so it doesn’t get of control. For the sake of their overall health and also so as to reduce the risks that they can be exposed to online.
Noticing changes in behavior
If your child has become a victim of cyberbullying you may find that they become very quiet and withdrawn, and may react very sensitively to things. They may also be reluctant to talk about their friends and appear to be isolating themselves socially. If you notice these kinds of changes in behavior and can sense that your child seems upset about something, the sensible thing to do would be to approach them about it, mention that they have been acting differently and ask if they would like to talk about it. Opening a dialogue is key to taking the relevant steps to try and resolve the issue.
How to combat cyberbullying
If you suspect that cyberbullying may be the issue and you are planning on approaching your son or daughter about it, then you should go in equipped with advice for how to stop it. The number one rule is to not respond or retaliate to the perpetrator, as this can escalate the issue and make matters much worse. Not getting a response is a good deterrent from further abuse as the perpetrator will be less likely to pursue it if they are not getting any feedback.
Keep a record
Taking a screenshot of cyberbullying incidences will enable someone to keep a record of it and use it as evidence if there is any possibility of confronting the perpetrator or their family. To prevent any further incidences, the victim should block the perpetrator and report the offending material to the relevant social platform.
Dealing with more serious cases
If the cyberbullying is of a more serious nature, for example if the victim is being threatened, made to fear for their personal safety or if the perpetrator is giving out personal information about them online, then this is a serious matter that could warrant police involvement.
By taking the above steps, the victim will be able to shut the perpetrator down and bring matters to a halt before they have a chance to escalate. But in the first instance, talking to someone about it is essential to get the support and advice that is needed to take action.