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Parent's Guide to

Cyberbullying

See below for our experts guide to identifying and managing cyberbullying.

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Cyberbullying is repeated cruel and intentional behaviour used to intimidate, embarrass, and harass online. It can be anything from name-calling to uploading embarrassing photos, passing information or photos of you or your family, or interfering with your content in any way online without your consent.

The impact of online bullying is serious. Addressing it directly and frequently within our homes is absolutely vital for the wellbeing of our kids. It’s not always easy, but that should never deter you from trying.

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What age is most vulnerable?

Cyberbullying behaviours seem to correlate with a child's first access to social media and games. Negative online behaviours such as cyberbullying seem to increase at around 10 years old, and decreases frequency and intensity at around 16 years old.

13 and 14 year old’s appear to be most vulnerable to cyberbullying.

How does it happen?

Cyberbullying is not just limited to mean comments directed from one person to another. Cyberbullying can also include online activities such as impersonation (setting up an account a pretending to be someone else), inappropriate or extreme banter (which is common for young people playing games on headsets), screenshotting (sharing someone's texts without permission) or even polling (putting up a vote for other's to participate in, for example 'Who's the ugliest girl at our school?). Exclusion from online chats are also very common.

Cyberbullying can occur on any platform, including social media, gaming platforms and general internet websites. As parents and carers, we need to be vigilant and prepared for the times things go wrong in our children's lives.

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Australian Statistics

Research suggests that well over three-quarters of our children will be involved with or be a witness to cyberbullying.

Unfortunately, cyberbullying is becoming more prevalent with primary-aged children, possibly due to increased access to technology at younger ages.

Even more sadly, young people can be cyberbullied online by complete strangers, who seek to intentionally incite distress in others. Typically these people are referred to as 'trolls', and can be even more prolific than cyberbullies. 

Primary school students who are victims

%

Secondary school students who are victims

%

Of students witness cyberbullying online

%

Straight From The Experts

Here are our three top insights direct from ySafe's leading cyber safety experts.

1

Most children won't tell their parents that they are being cyberbullied.

Be aware that children are often unlikely to tell their parents if they are being cyberbullied. They are reluctant because they fear that their parents' response will be to stop them from using technology or that particular platform.

2

Look out for the red flags

Red flags include changes in behaviour, disruptions in sleep, agitation or withdrawal. Kids often become fixated more on their devices too, as they want to stay informed about if anyone is making it worse, or if anyone is sticking up for them. 

3

Tell kids that they can talk to you

It seems simple, but because many young people fear their parents are going to take their technology away or overreact, clear communication and empathy is important. Make it clear to your children that you understand removing access isn’t always helpful, that they can talk to you about the issue, and that you can help them work through their problems instead of seeing technology itself as the main issue. 

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If your child is being cyberbullied, here are the steps that we would recommend you take:

1

Screenshot the Content

Taking a screenshot of the cyberbullying content is important 'evidence' to use when reporting to the platform, or reporting to the school. In extreme cases, this information may also be taken to your local police. 

2

Have the Content Removed from the Platform

We know there is a direct correlation between how long a cyberbullying post is up online for and how much distress a child will feel due to increased exposure. It's essential that the content is removed to decrease the chance of the content being shared further. To have cyberbullying content removed, you can report it directly to the platform, or you can report it to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. More information about reporting can be found here

3

Ask Your Child How They Would Like to be Helped

Many kids don't tell their parents about cyberbullying because they fear that their parents will try and 'fix it'. Help them by asking what they would like you to do to help them. This is a great opportunity for you to problem solve the solution with them, by offering them options and sharing in a conversation about the best course of action to take. This will help kids feel empowered and make you feel like you're solving the issues 'with' them, and not 'for them'.

4

Block the Cyberbullying (optional)

To stop the cyberbullying from happening again, it is a good idea to block the cyberbully from accessing your child's profile. Sit with your child and work through this process together. All social media and gaming platforms have options to block other users.In some instances, your child might not want to block that person due to social reasons. Refer to Step 3 and help with problem-solving other solutions. 

5

Engage the School (optional)

If the issue cannot be resolved by the steps above, or you feel that the situation needs to be escalated, it's a good idea to speak with a staff member at the school to seek their advice. The school are great resource of information and support. We do not recommend speaking to the parent of the potential-cyberbully without consulting the school first. 

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