Cyberbullying is malicious use of the internet and digital device to deliberately bait, intimidate, humiliate or insult a person or group. Cyberbullies can follow their target constantly, making cyberbullying incredibly persistent and pervasive. You may suspect your child is being bullied online if they become withdrawn or emotional after screen time, react nervously to new notifications, stop using devices or have trouble sleeping, eating or studying.

Your child might want to stand up for themselves online but it’s widely recommended that responding or retaliating is not advised. Instead focus on gathering proof and taking steps to place as much virtual space as possible between the bully and your child. Consider using screens during set times as a family, so you can be there to see any new abuse and offer support.

Gathering proof
As soon as your child tells you they are being bullied take screen shots and document the occurrences of cyber bullying as evidence of the abuse.

Who can help?
Start by contacting your child’s school as it has a responsibility for helping support pupils who are being bullied. Report the issue straight way, even if it is happening at home, online or on a mobile phone. It’s important that children do not blame themselves for the behaviour of a cyberbully and have access to support if they feel depressed or anxious – your child’s school should have trained members of staff ready to offer the right help, so always inform the head teacher.

Block and report
Your child may fear the repercussions of blocking a bully, but it sends a strong message. All forms of harassment are unacceptable. If your child is being subjected to online trolling ask them to report the abusive comments immediately. Social media platforms have functions in place to help. On Facebook, for example, click the ‘Report/Block This Person’ link and select ‘This person is bullying or harassing me.’

The UK government has called upon online companies to take more responsibility in making sure children are treated as children online and protected until the age of 18.

For more information and advice, visit – https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/bullying-abuse-safety/types-bullying/online-bullying/

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