Bullying of any kind is an awful experience for a child to go through but cyber-bullying is especially insidious because there’s no physical escape from it.
All it takes is a mobile phone to ensure that your child can be bullied at any time, day or night, regardless of whether they’re at school or at home.
Are there certain signs that could indicate that my child is being cyber bullied?
Yes. It’s time to talk to your child about cyber bullying if
- your child is avoiding school, or seems upset, sad or angry (especially after using the phone or PC)
- your child is withdrawing from usual activities
- your child suddenly lacks interest in computers or rapidly switches screens when you enter the room
Be honest with your child
Make sure they know not to give away personal information online, especially on public websites or to people they do not know. Personal information includes their name, address, phone number, email address, photographs of themselves, or any financial information such as bank account numbers.
However, it’s also important to show your child that he or she should not allow cyber bullies to ruin their relationship with the internet. Remain calm and show them that the matter can be dealt with in a way that does not involve retaliation.
Be aware that social media has probably become an extension of children’s daily lives – a hurtful comment online can be devastating.
By telling your child “don’t use that site anymore”, your child is effectively being punished for being bullied. Some things you and your child can do together are:
- Block or remove the person as a follower. It is also advisable for children to block others they see abusing people online
- Report the issue to the site/app or phone company
- Get your child to take screenshots of the evidence which may be required by the Gardai or the school
- If the bully attends your child’s school, parents should link in with the school to advise what is happening. The school will have an anti-bullying policy which will include cyberbullying.
- For more serious instances of bullying or abuse such as harassment, grooming or sexually inappropriate content, contact the Gardai.