Cyber bullying is the use of electronic media - especially mobile phones and the internet - to intimidate, threaten or upset someone. It can come from friends in school, or online friends made in social media and gaming platforms. Cyber bullying is real and hurtful, and in some famous cases, have caused victims to commit suicide.
Cyber bullying can include:
- Texting scary or rude messages by mobile phone
- Sending unpleasant photographs by mobile phone
- Using emails, online message boards or social networking sites to post cruel messages
- Deleting the victim's name from groups or ignoring their messages on social networking sites (ostracization)
Survey data in Singapore suggests that about three in ten school children and youths have experienced cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is similar to other forms of bullying in that the victim is physically and emotionally harassed and made to feel frightened. But the major difference is that a cyber bully is able to "follow" the victim into his house and into his bedroom, and at all times of the day. It is potentially more traumatic because the victim may feel that he has nowhere to hide, and that the "whole world" knows.
Help! What can I do if I am being cyber-bullied?
- Stop responding or communicating with the cyber bully immediately
- Block the cyber bully from your friends list, if possible
- Save a copy of the bullying message as evidence to prove that you have been cyber bullied
- Talk to a trusted adult, i.e. parent, relative or teacher, about the incident
I know someone is being cyber-bullied. What can I do?
If you are a witness to cyber-bullying, don't stand by. All bullies rely on the support of by-standers -people who watch what's going on but do nothing about it.
- Be brave - help fight the cyber bullying by reporting the cyber bully
- Let the victim know you are on their side
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How can I tell if my child is being cyber-bullied?
Your child may not tell you if he or she is being cyber-bullied, but here are some tell -tale signs you can look out for:
- Unwillingness to go to school
- Sudden fear of using the computer or mobile phone
- Irritability, anxiety, aggression
- Bedwetting, inability to sleep at night
What can I do if my child is being cyber-bullied?
This is a time to be patient, understanding and supportive. Do not dismiss the bullying as a passing phase or that your child will soon "get over it".
- Try to understand the technology and communication networks your child uses
- Ask your child to show you any nasty messages he or she receives
- Tell your child never to respond to an abusive text message - what the cyber bully most wants is a reply
- Talk to staff at your child's school if other pupils at the school are involved
- Take the opportunity to build trust with your child and encourage positive online behaviour
- Most importantly, refrain from taking away his access to the computer or mobile phone as that may prevent him from confiding in you in future
What if my child is a cyber-bully?
No parent wants to think of their child as a bully. But if it's come to your attention that your child is indeed a bully, online or otherwise, you should take action.
- Ask your child if he's ever done anything online to purposely hurt or upset someone
- Emphasize that it is wrong and unacceptable to be cruel to other children or to take part in an activity to hurt them
- Explain that there could be legal and criminal consequences such as being expelled from school or be charged by the police if physical harm is involved
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