Cy­ber bul­ly­ing af­fect­ing more adults

The Tribune (NZ) - - BACKYARD BANTER -

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: net­ or cy­ber­bul­ly­ Down­load Bul­ly­ing Preven­tion & Re­sponse: A Guide for Schools at well­bein­

Cy­ber bul­ly­ing isn’t just di­rected at kids. A grow­ing num­ber of adults are also be­ing vic­timised on the web.

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