Cyberbullying involves the use of electronic devices or the Internet to threaten, embarrass, socially exclude, and harass. Cyberbullying is often repetitive and can have significant socio-emotional implications for the victim and for those who witness the bullying. Cyberbullying can occur through various forms of social media, including texting, email, chats, websites, instant messaging, cell phones and through the use of pictures/video clips. Cyberbullying is often aggressive behaviour that can be intentional or unintentional, direct or indirect, and it may include mockery, insults, threats, racist or homophobic comments, gossip, rumours, group exclusion, humiliation and social rejection.
In this electronic age, cyberbullying can have far reaching implications. With the click of a button, a cyberbullying incident can reach a wide audience, resulting in someone feeling victimized and unsafe. The anonymity afforded to cyberbullies through seemingly secure interfaces often results in the continuation of this unacceptable behaviour. Cyberbullies are often far less remorseful and empathetic and more prone to engage in negative, prolonged, delinquent behaviour.
Signs Your Child May Be Cyberbullied
Your child may:
- be anxious, fearful and or unhappy
- be uninterested in attending school
- appear to withdraw from members of their peer group
- avoid discussions relating to technology
- seem irritable when using technology
- change online technology habits
- display low self-esteem
Youth who have experienced cyberbullying are at greater risk of suffering from anxiety, depression, isolation, low self-esteem, academic issues and school absenteeism.
Youth who cyberbully are at greater risk of experiencing academic difficulties, delinquency, substance abuse and difficulty in engaging in relationships.
Six Ways to Address Cyberbullying: A Parent’s Guide
- Report cyberbullying to your internet provider, by forwarding copies of the correspondence. If cyberbullying occurs on a social media site, you must also report the occurrence to the provider. Anonymous cyberbullying should be reported to the police.
- Contact the police immediately if threats occur.
- Disable all social media accounts. If the cyberbullying is taking place via cell phone, make sure to change your child’s number to an unlisted one.
- Be aware of how your child is feeling. Children who have been cyberbullied may feel unsafe, overwhelmed and depressed.
- Seek counselling for your child if they are struggling with cyberbullying.
- Avoid taking technology away. Technology is a lifeline for most youth. Taking away all forms of technology is a way to further isolate your child from his/her peers that are able to support during this difficult time.
The information on this page was sourced from the Ministry of Educations Policy/Program Memorandum No. 144 and from a PREVNet document entitled, "What Parents Need to Know about Cyberbullying."