Cyberbullying refers to the use of technology to harass, or bully, someone else. This behaviour is particularly prevalent in teenagers. It occurs on Facebook, MSN, via mobile text, email, web pages, and digital photos.
Forms of cyberbullying can range in severity from hurtful and mean comments or embarrassing rumors to threats, harassment, or stalking. It can affect any age group; however, teenagers and young adults are common victims.
The anonymity of the internet makes it easier for bullies because it makes tracing the perpetrator more difficult. It somehow seems easier to be nasty because there is no personal contact.
How can you protect your child?
- Teach them to be careful posting personal information – By limiting the number of people who have access to information or details about their interests, they reduce their exposure to bullies. This may limit their risk of becoming a victim and may make it easier to identify the bully if they are victimized.
- Avoid escalating the situation – Responding with hostility is likely to provoke a bully and escalate the situation. Depending on the circumstances, it is best to ignore or report the issue. You can report to the School and/or to the site. Bullies thrive on the reaction of their victims. Other options include subtle actions.
- Document the activity – Keep a record of any online activity (emails, web pages, instant messages, etc.), including relevant dates and times. In addition to archiving an electronic version, consider printing a copy.
- Report cyberbullying to the appropriate authorities – If you are being harassed or threatened, report the activity to the police. Law enforcement agencies have different policies, but your local police station is a good starting point. It is also appropriate to report it to the School.
Protect your children by teaching them good online habits (see Keeping Children Safe Online for more information). Keep lines of communication open with your children so that they feel comfortable telling you if they are being victimized online. Reduce their risk of becoming cyberbullies by setting guidelines for and monitoring their use of the internet and other electronic media.