Reducing the risk of Cyberbullying

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Last week I published this post about parents over-sharing updates and images of their children on social media. I had been intending to write a follow-up about cyberbullying when an opportunity fell into my lap!

Out of the blue, I was contaced by Amy Williams, a US-based online safety advocate. Amy has penned the guest post below solely from a UK perspective and also produced the accompanying infographic about keeping teens safe online.

Although my kids are a little young for cyberbullying to be a major issue, it has come up in conversation. Online safety is discussed at school and these discussions continue at home. Any advice and tips I pick up now will be useful for the future and I hope you find Amy’s post useful too. Over to Amy…

Does your child stick out in any way? Unfortunately kids with a confident sense of their identity and who express it via their clothes and make up face an increasingly high chance that they’ll be bullied about it at some point in time. If that bullying happens online, it could continue to haunt them for years to come.

What’s Going On?

As reported by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), tens of thousands of children have talked to groups like ChildLine about bullying – and history has already demonstrated that for every child who speaks up, many more never do. On average, over 15,000 students will lose time at school each year due to bullying, and those in any minority group are even more likely to be attacked.

Now, many mums and dads wonder if bullying is really worth being concerned over – and the answer is emphatically ‘yes’. A study for The Lancet took a look at two major studies, one of which focused specifically on the UK, and the results were clear – bullying (both online and offline) has long-term negative effects on children. It’s not just a mean kid saying bad things one or two times – the depression and social alienation in formative years could hurt a child for decades to come.

We’ve found the problem – and now? It’s time to deal with it.

Cyberbullying, children, teenagers, parenting, social media

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8 thoughts on “Reducing the risk of Cyberbullying”

  1. A really good and wise article.

    Communication with your child is certainly the key … having an ongoing dialogue is the best way to stop problems.

    This may be controversial, but I don’t think that a facebook account is appropriate for pre-teens. We let my son have a FB login only when he was 14, and we locked all the FB security settings to their most restrictive settings (only friends can see postings etc.). We insisted that both parents were friends and that he could only friend those people with whom he was friends already. Two years down the line this seems to have worked out OK.

    We use the Parental Controls from OpenDNS, which seems to stop accidental and random pornography and other inappropriate material finding it’s way onto the computer. I had to relax the setting on religous content though to allow him to do his RE homework.

    My son’s school seems to be very aware of Cyberbullying and related activities and not only has special lessons at school, but has also acted in cases of such bullying, which is reassuring and can prompt disscussions over meals.

    1. Glad to hear your sons school takes Cyberbullying so seriously. I’m very impressed with my daughter’s school, even though it is a primary school. These messages have to be taken on board while young and you are correct; contsant dialogue is essential.

  2. This is an interesting post, and I’m glad Amy raises the issue that bullying isn’t just harmful for the length of it’s duration. I was bullied at school and the damage it did to my confidence, my ability to get to know people and my willingness to trust others has been a feature of my adult life. And I wasn’t bullied as badly as many people are, and luckily I didn’t have to face it when I was away from school. Kids now who are bullied will no doubt find that the bullies can reach them in their own homes, in their own time, thanks to social media. That’s a pretty horrifying thought.

    On the plus side, I do think that kids today are a lot more inclusive and tolerant of differences than they were when I was at school. It’s a shame that those who haven’t caught up with the positive changes now have more forms of bullying at their disposal…

    1. I take some solace from the fact schools seem to take bullying much more sriously these days. I certainly hope my kids never experience it, especially cyberbullying which is just so horrible.

  3. My son use to have a long hair. He requested me to cut it short because some of his classmates (the popular and older ones I suppose) is calling him a girl. Its not a in your face bullying of course but more of a peer pressure. But I suddenly remember that when I read this. And I am so scare for my son as he is different in his school as he is half asian. I wish that peer pressure would end when he cut his hair. #pocolo

    1. Here’s hoping he doesn’t experience anything worse. Schools take bullying so much more seriously than when I was a kid. This gives me hope.

  4. Pingback: Keeping the family together using technology | Dad Blog UKKeeping the family together using technology - Dad Blog UK

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