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Cyberbullying

cyber; bully; bullying; mobile; phone; internet; harassment; email; victim; online;

Cyberbullying involves using technology, social media web sites such as Facebook and Twitter, phone messaging or the internet to tease, harass or embarrass someone. Cyberbullying can be extremely harmful to a child's self-esteem, but steps can be taken to protect children and minimise the impact.

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How to protect against cyberbullying

Talk to your child about safety, and keeping their private details private. This may mean upgrading security or account settings on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter, only allowing real friends onto friends lists, being careful not to give passwords out to other people and being mindful of what is posted - being sure not to post anything online that could be used to embarrass your child. Consider advising your child to only give their mobile phone number, instant messaging name or e-mail address to trusted friends.

Some parents may consider monitoring their child's social media sites, to ensure they are not posting information or images which they think might be risky.

What children can do if they are being bullied

  • Talk about it with someone, such as trusted adults and friends.
  • Talk to teachers at school. All schools have policies about cyberbullying and know how to try to stop it happening.
  • Block the sender's messages. Don't reply.
  • Check the social networking site's policy on protecting young people under 18 years of age.
  • Report any bullying to the social networking site concerned.
  • Keep a record of harassing messages and record the time and date that you received them. It is against the law to use a mobile phone to harass or threaten someone.
  • Advise your service provider. Most service providers have 'appropriate use' policies that restrict users from harassing others.

What parents can do

  • Get involved by learning all that you can about the technologies that your child is using.
  • Discuss safety with your child and using the phone and internet responsibly.
  • Reassure your child that you are there if he needs help.
  • Watch out for signs that your child is being bullied. Maybe he doesn't want to use his mobile phone or computer, or maybe he tries to get out of going to school.
  • Work out the rules with your child for the use of technology in your family and what will happen if she does not stick to them.
  • You might check your child's phone messages and email in and out boxes, if you suspect bullying is taking place - but you need to consider your child's rights to privacy too - this can be difficult to balance.

Young people often respond better to their peers than to adults, but you can still have a strong role in protecting young people from cyberbullying.

 

Resources

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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