Cyber-bullying

 

Cyber- bully’s commit their atrocious acts while socialising in cyberspace through the use of popular social media applications including, but not limited to; face-book, twitter, whats app, or email. The intention of cyberbullying is to hurt, and to demean the target, as well as to diminish their self-esteem. Bullying can engage in social, psychological and even physical harm, in more extreme circumstances.

Perpetrators may write nasty emails, send cruel texts, or post videos and photographs which are unflattering to the target. Online is the perfect environment to commit these acts because gossip spreads quickly, and is difficult to delete.

Other forms of cyber -bullying include:

  • hacking a target’s account, and posting nasty messages on their social media page to embarrass them in front of their friends.
  • using an alias on social media to bully the victim.
  • sending sexually suggestive pictures, (or messages belonging to another person) to other people who may or may not know the target, without the target’s permission.

Cyber-bullying, like school-yard bullying can cause great emotional harm to victims; often inducing fear, shame, guilt and fear. Bullying can lead to depression, deliberate isolation of oneself, low self-esteem, and other mental health issues.

Accessibility to the internet, and the reality that young people are spending more and more time on screens, means that avoiding bullying is difficult. It is not unusual for teens to have access to, or to even own, two or more different forms of technology which can be used to access the internet.

Mobile phones and laptops make it easy for wifi to be accessed by teenagers at school, in the library, in a cafe, or even on the bus, if need be. This regular access to technology means that cyber-bullying is becoming harder and harder for adults to manage.

At what age does cyber-bullying begin?

Cyber-bullying is likely to begin late in primary school, and early in high – school. Girls are more likely to participate in cyber-bullying than boys, and it is much more common for older students with regular access to technology to participate in cyber-bullying, than it is for children entering primary school.

The primary school cyber-bully’s focus: 

The primary school cyber-bully is more focused on the physical appearance of their target, while high – school cyber-bully’s are more focused on the behaviour of their peers in social settings, especially the peers who don’t fit in.

Statistics:

  1. Research reveals that students’ mostly refuse to confide in adults’ about their experiences with cyber-bullying through fear that the adult’s involvement in the situation will make things worse.
  2. 13% of teens  using social media (12-17) say they’ve had at least one experience on a social network site that has made them feel nervous about attending school.
  3. just over half of adolescents’ and teens’ have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber-bullying.
  4. 1 in 3 young people have been threatened online.
  5. 60% of teens’ say they have never reported the problem to the social media site where the incident took place.
  6. About 25% of teenagers’ have been bullied repeatedly on their mobile phones, or online.
  7. Approximately 1 in 5 teens’ have sent sexually suggestive material, or nude pictures of themselves online.
  8. 1 in ten tweens’ have had embarrassing or damaging photos taken of them, without their permission, often with the use of a mobile phone camera.
  9. Girls are more likely to be cyber-bullied than boys. Apparently there is a direct connection to the amount of time spent on line in comparison to boys.
  10. A recent study suggests that 58% of 4th graders through to 8th graders reported having nasty things said to them online. 53% have said that they have also said mean or hurtful things to others while online. 42% of those surveyed said they had been bullied online, but almost 60% have never told their teachers about the incident.

The safe schools initiative:

The safe schools initiative has specific policies which address cyber-bullying; and safe schools’ encourage children to become a part of an open, supportive and connected school culture. The national safe schools’ framework helps Australian schools develop student safety and well-being policies.

Schools can implement cyber safety lesson plans, and teachers’ can openly encourage all students’ to be active bystanders if they witness bullying.

If teachers’ have significant concerns that a student is being cyber – bullied, this should be discussed with the student, and their parent’s and carer’s. Students should be provided with options, including psychological support if needed.

What does the law say about cyber bullying?

  • It is an offence to harass, threaten, or humiliate someone using the internet or a mobile phone.
  • It is a crime under both NSW and national law to cyber – bully someone using the internet, or in a way that intentionally encourages or causes the victim to kill them-selves. The maximum penalty is 5 years in gaol.

What can happen?

  • cyber-bullies’ can be investigated by mobile phone or internet service providers , websites, schools and non-criminal courts.
  • Websites can give warnings to the cyber bully, remove inappropriate content, and will disable user’s accounts.

What to do?

Report cyber-bullying to the social media site: The social media site will take appropriate action against anyone abusing the terms of service.

Review the terms and conditions, or rights and responsibilities sections of the social networking site: The terms and conditions describe what inappropriate content looks like and how to make a complaint.

Visit social media safety centres: Teach your teenager how to use the settings to control who can make contact with you.

Use the report button: The best way to report abusive content is to use the report button next to the content itself.

Keep evidence: If the attacks persist, you may need to report the activity to an internet service provider and they will want to see the messages.

See a councillor: Talking about the bullying with somebody outside of the problem, like a councillor, can reassure the child that this is not their fault.

Speak to the school: Look into the schools’ policies on bullying, and utilise the resources provided by the school, which are there to sort the problem out. Keep all evidence of the events taking place.

 

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