Cyber bullying affecting more adults
An estimated one in three Kiwi kids is being cyber bullied each year and growing numbers of adults are also being victimised.
NetSafe, a non-profit organisation that champions responsible use of online and mobile technologies, says email, cellphones, chat rooms, social networking sites and instant messaging are used to bully people verbally, socially or psychologically.
Cyber bullying can cause extensive emotional damage and the number of people who selfharm – or even suicide – is on the rise.
But there are ways to combat it:
1. Connect with people you trust. Mute the comments of anyone causing you problems from your newsfeed, block their cellphone numbers or unfriend them altogether.
2. Keep the conversation positive. Always deal with other people respectfully – even if you don’t like them very much. Don’t post a comment you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. Be the bigger person and turn the other cheek if someone shares something negative about you. Don’t give them the attention they’re craving and they might stop.
3. Encourage open and honest conversation with your kids. A lot of cyber bullying goes unreported because children are too afraid to talk about it.
‘‘Often parents don’t have a clear picture about what their children are using technology for,’’ Neil Melhuish from NetSafe says. ‘‘Take time to learn more about where they are going online; the sorts of things they enjoy doing and the challenges they experience when they’re there.
‘‘Teach them what acceptable communication is and isn’t, including what to do when someone from school is mean to them and how to deal with strangers asking them strange or intimate questions.
‘‘Reassure them that they’ve done the right thing in telling you.’’
NetSafe says the fear of losing access to a computer or mobile phone is a major reasons why kids don’t tell adults they’re being bullied; don’t make a knee-jerk reaction and close down their social media accounts because that won’t necessarily solve the problem.
4. Keep across social media privacy updates. Make sure you understand how those changes can affect your privacy.
5. Alert the authorities. NetSafe says children will typically try to resolve a problem themselves or with their friends before escalating it to their parents or teachers. Children can free-call Youthline on 0800 376 633 to talk to a counsellor about cyber bullying. Contact your school principal or social media administrator if the situation is getting out of hand. Most websites and social media platforms have ‘Report Abuse’ or ‘Safety’ buttons. Don’t be afraid to escalate your concerns to the police if bullying turns physical or threatening. Save all bullying messages and images including dates and times.
More: netsafe.co.nz or cyberbullying.co.nz. Download Bullying Prevention & Response: A Guide for Schools at wellbeingatschool.org.nz.
Cyber bullying isn’t just directed at kids. A growing number of adults are also being victimised on the web.