Cyber bullying, by definition is the use of electronic communication to bully a person.
Since the invention of social media, cyber bullying has been in effect. However, with the rise of technology, in 2015, 15.3 million out of the 24 million of us owned a smartphone showing that the vast majority of us now have a readily available device to be able to access all of the positive and negative aspects of social media. A negative being cyberbullying, a prevalent issue happening across the globe, especially Australia, being the ranked 3rd in number of searches to do with cyberbullying in 2015, showing a direct correlation between children being bullied, and children being bullied online.
Cyberbullying is the second most common form of bullying in australia since the rise of technology. Seeing as 80% of teens are using a smartphone everyday, risks become higher. Especially with the possibility of anonymity on sites like ask.fm whose site caused the suicide of a 14 year old girl in 2003. Which further proves that the aspect of anonymity is one of the leading aspects that lure bullies towards these sites to gain from the humiliation, suffering and defamation of any particular child.
Whilst cyber bullying occurs online, 9 out of 10 facebook users have reported that they have witnessed cyberbullying and 54% of those surveys claimed to have been bullied on facebook also. But what is the role of facebook and other leading social networks? Do they have a duty to tend to these cases or do they roll off into a pile to be dismissed. The answer is no, facebook and other social media platforms have no legal responsibility to the cause, however nonetheless an effort is made with a bullying prevention hub that offers advice and tools to victims, parents and bully’s. However the only direct online prevention is either blocking or reporting the user and if lucky having them taken off facebook, only for them to return with even more harassment.
What can be done?
Building awareness of the growing issue of cyberbullying among schools, parents, children, communities, etc is a crucial role in the steps towards the intervention and prevention of these cases. In many cases an adult has not been informed cyberbullying is a real threat their children face day to day or does not notice the signs of cyberbullying or how to treat the sensitive situation at hand, which further negatively impacts the child, feeling as if there is nobody else they can turn to. Building awareness of this issue will increase resolution rates and give parents the tools and knowledge which is crucial in these situations, even if it is solely referring the adult to start conversations at school with teachers as a start or just understanding the huge role social media plays in your childs life despite it not being the same in your own.
Online sites parents can educate themselves with:
Starting to educate children early in schools via online videos, posters, books, online hubs and third party organizations can and will teach children;
- Safe and respectful online interactions
- Digital citizenship
- Managing personal online activities
- To always report cyberbullying despite fear of retribution
Tips for parents:
- Provide intervention that restores instead of only punishing the child (eg, dont just take their phone or delete accounts)
- Work to help understand the harm caused by actions
- Amend the harm in some way
- Commit to change
- Starting a conversation
- Establish rules for online use
- Educate on internet safety and consequences of misuse
- Dont invade privacy, however keep passwords in case you notice signs below
- Blocking software
- Start an internet use contract
- Zero tolerance policy
Tips for teachers
- Teach students it’s okay to report abuse
- Establish firm policies and zero tolerance
- Understand they identify more closely to their online presence
- Team building
- Involve parents
- Establish conversations
Sites and resources for teachers:
The key to prevention and restoration is observation, with early detection of a child struggling there is a higher chance of the child resuming normal activities and mood patterns which is where this list of signs comes into effect. A child may be experiencing cyberbullying if the child;
- Unexpectedly stops using their devices
- Appears angry, upset or depressed after using technology
- Oversleeps or under-sleeps
- Is abnormally withdrawn from usual friends
- Had an increase or decrease in eating
- Makes passing statements about the meaningless of life etc.
- Desires to spend much more time with parents and family rather than friends
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Office of the eSafety Commissioner. (2017). Cyberbullying – information for teachers. [online] Available at: https://www.esafety.gov.au/esafety-information/esafety-issues/cyberbullying/cyberbullying-information-for-teachers [Accessed 9 Nov. 2017].
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