The scourge of cyber-bullying is an ever present menace in our schools. Protecting our children on-line poses a whole new set of challenges. With the younger generation using the web to organise everything from shopping to their social lives, making sure they are able to use the internet safely and without fear is a concern for all parents.
Cyber-bullying has emerged in recent years and is an extremely damaging social phenomenon… linked with depression, mental illness and even suicide . Beating cyber-bullying is a challenge which requires cooperation from teachers, parents, pupils and Internet Service Providers (ISP).
Cyber-bullying" is when a child, or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child using the Internet or another type of technology. This form of bullying will always be defined like this when 2 children or teenagers are involved. Once adults become involved, it is plain and simple cyber-harassment or cyber stalking. Adult cyber-harassment or cyber-stalking is never called cyberbullying.
Those who take part in online bullying often use a group of friends to target their victims by asking them to add a comment to a photo on a blog, or asking them to forward it onto another group of friends. Sometimes, these people don’t even realise they’re actually bullying someone.
So how do we combat cyber-bullying ? Like I mentioned earlier, we need a collaborative approach from all the people involved. If your child has received abusive emails or flame mails or hate mail, you can forward it to abuse@isp where "isp" is the service provider the abuser is using, eg "aol.com" or "yahoo.com".
Although Internet service providers may not act on every complaint, the more complaints with examples of abusive emails they receive about a particular individual the more likely they are to close down the person's account.
It may be tempting for your child to send back an insulting message', but they would be giving the bully exactly what he or she wants. You see, What the bully is trying to do is to provoke a response from you - anything they can act upon or use to justify further abuse - which is why it's so important to deny them the opportunity.
It is very difficult to feel anything towards a person who is not responsive and bully’s are no different, even ones that operate in the virtual world
So, instead of hitting reply, encourage your child to press save or make a note of the message, including the time and date. Reassure them that everything is ok and build up evidence in this way, and if you have to take it to someone with the authority to act, you can provide all the proof they need.
A lot of kids today are using internet forums to meet up and discuss what’s going on in their lives. Sadly, these places are sometimes used as sites to spread hate and insults. If you have a problem like this, contact the website administrators or owner with a complaint.
On well-run forums, people are warned off successfully, perhaps with a cooling off period stopping them from posting for a few days, they may be banned from the site permanently if they fail to behave. However, do be aware that these people often rejoin under new names.
Occasionally, the website owners don’t want to take any action, in which case the only thing to do is to leave and find another site you like. There are lots of similar websites on the internet so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one which is better run.
Really serious abuse or threats should be reported to the police. It is an offence in the UK to use the phone system, which includes the internet, to cause alarm or distress, and it can also be harassment which is also an offence.
However, the police will usually only be interested if the abuse is from someone in the UK and if threats are made.
This is where your school and the recent legislation comes in. The last couple of years have seen a lot of new government initiatives and a tightening up of the law with regards to bullying behaviours. Schools now have further powers to exclude pupils who bully students outside of school hours and online
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