Bullying is never a normal part of growing up, character building or something that only happens to children. Whatever form it takes, bullying is always wrong and it can happen to anyone, both within school and outside in the wider community at any time.
As a parent you play a crucial role in providing support and guidance to your child, but you are not alone. Bullying UK have advice for parents on how to spot the signs of bullying and what to do if you are concerned your child is being bullied.
For local support contact the family support adviser (FSA) or headteacher in your school. You can also contact Youthline (a free, confidential counselling service for young people) on 01344 311200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Online bullying occurs when children or teenagers use the internet, mobile phones or any other technology to threaten, tease or embarrass another young person.
Nasty messages are just one form of online bullying. Bullies can misuse technology and set up a website or a group using social media websites like Facebook and then ask other people to join in and comment about a person or post images of them.
However, it can also include things like emailing someone a virus on purpose, posting personal information online, or calling them names when playing a game together online.
Bullies on the internet can’t cause physical pain, but because of the way we now live our lives – with mobile phones and lots of internet use – they can be very hard to avoid.
Another big difference between normal bullying and online bullying is that it’s often difficult to work out who the cyberbullies are, as they can hide behind fake names.
The National Crime Prevention Council gives the following advice for parents:
- keep your home computer in a busy area of your house
- set up email and chat accounts with your children
- make sure that you know their screen names and passwords and that they don’t include any personal information in their online profiles
- regularly go over their instant messenger “buddy list” with them and ask who each person is and how your children know him or her
- print this list of commonly used acronyms in instant messenger and chat rooms from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and post it by your computer
- discuss cyberbullying with your children and ask if they have ever experienced it or seen it happen to someone
- tell your children that you won’t blame them if they are cyberbullied – emphasise that you won’t take away their computer privileges – this is the main reason kids don’t tell adults when they are cyberbullied