Cyberbullying is bullying that directly involves the use of digital technologies, the Internet, interactive media or mobile phones. It must involve children or teenagers doing both the bullying and being the bullied. The moment that adults are involved it officially becomes known as cyber-stalking or cyber-harassment.
Cyberbullying can take several forms. At its simplest, it involves the attacked verbally abusing the victim via direct insults, taunts and threats. These can be texts, calls, emails or messages. In a more tactful, subtle and more difficult to stop form, a cyberbully will use these platforms to embarrass the victim. With many in school all sharing the same friends lists, they can publish an embarrassing photo, story or comment about the victim on the social media and therefore, highlight the victim’s weakness. Others can then chime in, and the victim can quickly feel like they are being ganged up on.
The Schools Role
Unfortunately, any school can do little to step in and stop the cyberbullying once it has started. The school has no right to tell a pupil what they can publish online when they are out of school hours and off school premises. This would affect the child’s right to free speech, and the school would be seen as in the wrong.
What the school can do is educate the children about the need to respect each other online and to not respond too hastily to comments. The gang mentality is the lock that needs to be broken. The school should advise the children to think twice before jumping into the gang against a victim online. Without support, bullies taunts will quickly feel less significant.
The Parents Role
The modern parent should be no stranger to the uses of Facebook and Twitter. By understanding how these social media platforms work they will also know how they could be used for cyberbullying.
Upon educating themselves about their uses a parent should both be able to spot when their child is being bullied. For younger children, try to keep them away from social media platforms altogether. For teens, however, this obviously isn’t so easy. Supporting your teen if they are being bullied is a key thing, just as if they were being bullied in the playground. Social media platforms allow you to report, block and un-friend, they also have a number of other website services you should look to take advantage of, and while this can offer some initial respite, it may also be worth contacting them directly as well.