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Cyberbullying

Bullying has always been a part of a society and the real or perceived power imbalance could be reason for them to do an unwanted, aggressive behavior among children. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking physically or verbally, avoiding someone within a group, etc. It depends on what happened, how often it happens and to whom it happens?

With the inception of the Internet, services like e-mail, instant social networking messages, bullies became able to do their nasty things with anonymity. Bullying which happens through electronic technology - devices such as computers, mobiles etc., as well as communication tools such as social media sites, text message tools, e-mail, etc, is called as cyber bullying. Cyber bullying can include teasing and being made fun of, spreading rumors online, sending unwanted messages and defamation.

Tips for parents and teachers to stop cyberbullying

Children are often reluctant to tell parents or teachers about cyberbullying because they fear that doing so may result in losing their computer or cell phone privileges. While parents should always monitor a child's use of technology, it's important not to threaten to withdraw access or otherwise punish a child who's been the victim of cyberbullying.

  • Prevent cyberbullying before it starts
  • To stay safe with technology, teach your kids to:
    • Refuse to pass along cyberbullying messages.
    • Tell their friends to stop cyberbullying.
    • Block communication with cyberbullies; delete messages without reading them.
    • Never post or share their personal information online (including full name, address, telephone number, school name, parents’ names, credit card number, or Social Security number) or their friends’ personal information.
    • Never share their Internet passwords with anyone, except you.
    • Talk to you about their life online.
    • Not put anything online that they wouldn't want their classmates to see, even in email.
    • Not send messages when they’re angry or upset.
    • Always be as polite online as they are in person.
  • Monitor your child's technology use
    • Regardless of how much your child resents it, you can only protect him or her by monitoring what they do online.
    • Keep the computer in a busy area of your house so you can easily monitor its use, rather than allowing your child use a laptop or tablet in his or her bedroom, for example.
    • Limit data access to your child's smart phone if he or she uses it to surf the web. Some wireless providers allow you to turn off text messaging services during certain hours.
    • Set up filters on your child's computer. Tracking software can block inappropriate web content and help you check up on your child's online activities.
    • Insist on knowing your child's passwords and learn the common acronyms kids use online and in text messages.
    • Know who your child communicates with online. Go over your child's address book and instant messenger "buddy list" with them. Ask who each person is and how your child knows them.
    • Encourage your child to tell you or another trusted adult if they receive threatening messages or are otherwise targeted by cyberbullies, while reassuring them that doing so will not result in their loss of computer or cell phone privileges.

How to deal with incidents of cyberbullying

  • Don't reply to any incidents of cyberbullying but do save and document the threats (harassing messages, sexually explicit pictures, or threatening texts, for example) and report them to the police. Seek appropriate legal advice.
  • Report incidents of cyberbullying to the police, the cell phone company, and to any web site used in the cyberbullying.
  • Block the cyber bully’s email address or cell phone number, or change your child's email address or phone number.
  • If you are able to identify the cyberbully, you could contact his or her parents or notify your child's school if the cyberbully is also a student there. Many schools have established protocols for handling cyberbullying but check with your child first as he or she may prefer to resolve the problem privately.

Source : Raising Happy children and providing safe childhoods - A Reader by Ministry of Women and Child Development

Related resources

  1. Information Security Education and Awareness
  2. Cyber bullying - An Indian perspective


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