Cyber Bullying & Online Safety

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What Is Cyber-Bullying?

A new form of an age-old problem, but with extra intensity. In years gone by, bullying ceased when kids got off the school bus. There was at least a pause between one day and the next. Time to have an icy-pole, to play with the dog, to go for a bike ride. Now, cyber bullying can follow students home and haunt them for every minute of their home life, if they know (or believe) that others are talking about them, mocking them, belittling them or even making threats against them. In some cases, cyber bullying can happen thoughtlessly or accidentally. In other cases it can be premeditated, calculated and vindictive.

Small comments that would be quickly forgotten if they were only whispered aloud are captured forever once written online and many children do not realise this until it is too late. Conversations can escalate, statements can be taken out of context. In one sense, this is not dissimilar to the way that children can argue in person. The important difference is that once online, words are immortalised. They are copied and sent to large groups with the click of a button. They are read over and over by the people affected. It can be a vicious cycle and can take a significant toll on children’s mental health.

How do I Keep My Child Safe?

There are many websites with tips for keeping your child safe online. Essentially, as a parent or guardian, you have the right and responsibility to stay abreast of all your child’s digital communication. This means that you can and should browse their messages, emails and other forms of contact with others. It is important to ensure that this is an expectation and mutual understanding right from the first occasions that they contact their friends online. If your child knows that you are likely to read their messages to others, they will be more forthcoming with issues as they arise and will be more respectful and responsible in keeping conversations appropriate, calm and friendly.

Most schools will have a digital citizenship policy (or similar) that formalises the expectations and responsibilities of students. If you believe that your child is being negatively affected by online communication it is important to act immediately, and seeking help and advice from your school is a great way to start. Through my teaching and my tutoring work I have assisted students in cyberbullying issues. For tutoring with a focus on wellbeing and educational counselling please contact me at info@templestowe-tutoring.com.au or call me on 0415-144-318.

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