Advice for parents to give their children on cyberbullying
Cyberbullying of your child is an absolute nightmare for parents and carers and unfortunately, cyberbullying and harassment in the UK, particularly of children is on the increase. Here is basic cyberbullying advice for parents:
It is important to understand that from a legal point of view, it is a form of harassment. In the UK cyberbullying and harassment are criminal offences and civil wrongdoings. Cyberbullying is generally being used as a term to describe online harassment, which is targeted towards a child but is applicable for all bullying on the internet), using technology. It involves unwanted communications but the communications might be direct or indirect. They could be sent to your child or to a third party. What matters is that they are persistent and are directed at your child and that the child is feeling bullied or harassed.
The types of communications that constitute cyberbullying may include emailing persistently without one's consent, texting threatening or intimidating remarks posted on social media, spreading malicious and abusive rumours via social media apps or through a website, trolling online, mobbing an individual (a group of cyberbullies who target one person), posting humiliating pictures, posting or sharing false information online, identity fraud, posting someone's private details online and online blackmail.
Take positive steps to protect your child against cyberbullying when they use mobile phones or tablets, ipads and computers. Cyberbullies can enter your child’s life while they are playing games. The child's mind might be focused on the game, leaving him/her unguarded. The cyberbully may promise extra credits or tokens to your child if they send them naked pictures of themselves or your child may be receiving all sorts of threats through any online accounts that they may have.
The cyberbully might be anonymous to your child or they could be someone that your child knows, from school or a club. They could be impersonating a friend that the child knows, via hacking and gaining information to gain access to your child, posing as someone that they know that has 'changed their username'. There are simple steps that you can do to safeguard your child from cyberbullying and harassment. Teach and educate your child about staying safe online and always ask if they have any concerns. Check the websites they visit and monitor their browsing history. You will need to assert your right to have access to the child's phone and you your child should be used to an occasional inspection.
Tell them: Do not ever give your name, age, address or contact details to strangers over the internet even if they sound really friendly and you have spoken to them lots of times. If they are pretending to be your friend that you know well, asking you questions, tell them to ask their parents or carer to get in touch with yours for answers (but don't give them any information, since their parents / carers will most likely know yours and have their contact details already). If you have never met them, don't fall for their charm. They are not your friends, no matter what they say or promise you.
Avoid telling people where you live or which school you go to. NEVER, EVER arrange to meet them. If a stranger asks you to meet them, this is wrong, so tell me or tell another grown up that you know and trust, that you have seen with me, Dad or another carer.
Confide in someone you trust. If you call a helpline, the volunteer might ask you some basic questions but that is OK provided you telephoned the helpline and they did not phone you.
Do not give any confidential information or take pictures of yourself and send them to anyone. If you are worried or scared, hang up and come and talk to us. Tell your friends or tell us if you are worried about anything. The only people you should share your password details with are your Mum, Dad or carer.
There is a lot of information online about how to protect your child and also about recognising the signs of any cyberbullying and harassment in the UK.
Sometimes parents feel that they need legal advice in relation to cyberbullying. As a parent you might feel that the school is not doing enough to protect your child or that the police perhaps should become involved in the matter. We have helped parents, schools and children who had been facing cyberbullying to ensure that schools and the police take a more proactive approach to help. We have also facilitated the fast removal of posts from the internet for children who had been subjected to cyberbullying.