Cyber Bullying – what we need to know
Cyber bullying, being singled out and tormented via the internet, is a distressing and very real issue. There is no target group, this happens to people from all groups. Being bullied online feels relentless. There have been tragic reports of the effects caused by cyber bullying.
Indications of bullying
Bullying takes many forms. Here, I am quoting heavily from my child protection training from 15 years spent in a classroom and ongoing training we received on child protection:
- A total change in personality
- Low self-esteem.
- Exhaustion due to lack of sleep.
- Faking illness to stay away from school, college or work.
- A sudden change in routine
- Secretive behaviour when online. This could also be an indication of abusive behaviour of another kind if the individual is a child or vulnerable person.
- Loss of appetite
- Being unhappy with personal appearance
- Wanting to spend more time with family
- Craving attention or love and avoiding friends.
- Crying before sleep or having tear stained eyes in a morning
- Unusual aggressive behaviour towards younger siblings
- Provoking arguments
What do latest statistics tell us?
According to an excellent 2014 article on NoBullying.com, 52% of young people reported being cyber bullied with 25% of the abuse being repeated bullying. One third of the victims were subjected to online threats. An astonishing 95% of teens reported witnessing online bullying and doing nothing about it. Only 1 in 6 parents were aware of the scope and intensity of online bullying. Update 2019: Sadly the site is no longer live
The NSPCC reports that there were almost 26,000 counselling sessions last year regarding bullying – 7,296 of these counselling sessions were about online bullying and safety. Read more here: http://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/bullying-and-cyberbullying/what-is-bullying-cyberbullying/
The saddest statistic of all is that more than half of the young people surveyed never confided in their parents about the abuse.
A time for change
So what can we do to help someone in this situation? They may open up a little and tell you a friend is experiencing a hard time. You could suggest they find a teacher that they trust and go and discuss it with them. Extensive training is given to both primary and secondary schools on this issue.
Your child may be working in a small group for part of the day. Teaching Assistants (TA’s) often work with small groups and can be an excellent bridge between child and teacher. It is usually a less formal relationship with the TA and the TA has been trained on how to report any issue that the child may confide.
List available options for help, let the child choose which one feels like the safest solution. Recommend talking to family, friend’s parents if they don’t feel they can talk to their own, as long as they tell someone rather than keep it all bottled up inside. Abuse by email or a targeted abusive post made on a public forum is harassment. Try to get a copy of the offending text for evidence should it be needed. Don’t inflame the situation by responding in anger.
What to do to stop cyber bullying
If you have children in school, speak to the head with everything presented formally in writing so that there is a record of what is happening. Having worked in a school myself I know that they are keen to stop behaviour like this very quickly and often have pastoral care to offer to the family and the victim of the bullying. If severely affected emotionally, a GP will assess which professional organisation will help. Importantly, if you are having a hard time coping they will also make sure you have the support you need. It’s a situation where you can feel very isolated and unable to help your child. For the victim, it really can be quite devastating to read unpleasant, malicious words on a public platform. It is a criminal offence to make threats causing alarm and distress on the internet.
If the bullying is taking place in the workplace then choose a colleague you trust to talk it over with. If you feel comfortable approaching your employer then do so, if not and you feel you have nowhere to turn, take a record of the bullying to a specialist in this field. Make sure that there is a record on your personnel file that you have raised that there is an issue. Please see the link below and also consider contacting ACAS
Most importantly, don’t suffer alone in silence there really is a lot of help on offer. Keep checking in to the Nybble blog and we will update you with all the latest information when relevant.
Posted by Jill Wells 27/10/15
Young Minds are a national charity. Committed to improving the emotional and mental wellbeing of all children and young adults under the age of 25. Visit them here: http://www.youngminds.org.uk/
Family Lives are always there to offer emotional support so if you feel talking things through with a trained support worker would be helpful do use their confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. http://www.familylives.org.uk/advice/
Childline is superb for many issues that affect families visit their fantastic website here: http://www.childline.org.uk/pages/home.aspx