Signs of cyberbullying
If you’re concerned that your child is being cyberbullied, you can watch for changes in your child’s school and social life, technology use, and emotions and behaviour.
You know your child and how she usually behaves, even if you find it hard to keep up with the technologies she uses and the different ways that cyberbullying can happen. This means you’re in a good position to notice any concerning changes in your child.
School and social life
- refuses to go to school
- starts getting lower marks than usual
- doesn’t want to see friends
- doesn’t want to take part in his usual sports and other activities
- avoids group gatherings.
- is upset during or after using the internet
- spends much longer than usual online, or stops using the computer or phone
- stops what she’s doing on the computer if you go past.
Emotions and behaviour
- is more moody than usual
- shows obvious changes in behaviour
- gets unusually angry at home
- has trouble sleeping
- has no appetite
- feels sick or complains of frequent headaches or stomach aches.
G.E.T.R.I.D. steps: helping children and teenagers handle cyberbullying
If children and teenagers are being bullied online, it’s great for them to feel they have some power to resolve the problem themselves. These six steps are a good way for your child to G.E.T.R.I.D. of cyberbullying.
You might need to help your child work through these steps and report a cyberbullying incident. Your support might make the difference, because some teenagers feel too emotionally exhausted to report incidents themselves.
1. G – go block or delete the person doing the cyberbullying
Blocking someone from friend lists helps stop the person doing the cyberbullying from posting or uploading offensive content about your child.
If the cyberbullying is happening through text messages or phone calls, you can ask the service provider to monitor the calls or texts, or block the number. If necessary, the service provider can contact the sender, because mobile phone holders breach their contracts if they use their phones to bully. If necessary, you can change the phone number.
2. E – ensure you keep evidence of bullying
Save evidence of the bullying. The best way to do this is to take screenshots.
3. T – tell someone
If your child shares feelings with a parent, older sibling, relative, teacher or close friend as soon as possible, it’ll help him feel less isolated.
4. R – report abuse
You can usually report cyberbullying to web administrators by clicking on a ‘report abuse’ link on a website. The website will remove the offensive content, but this can take time. If the material isn’t removed in 48 hours, you can lodge a complaint through the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner.
If your child has been threatened, she should also report it to the local police. If your child is in immediate danger, she should call 000.
There could be consequences for the person doing the cyberbullying if you report the abuse.
It’s a good idea for you and your child to look together at the social media sites he uses to make sure he knows how to report abuse.
5. I – initiate control
If your child takes control of the cyberbullying situation, she can feel safer and break the cycle. A big part of taking control is reporting the abuse and also not retaliating or responding aggressively to it. In fact, it’s best for your child not to engage with the person who is doing the cyberbullying at all.
Responding to the person doing the cyberbullying can make things worse because it can make the person who is cyberbullying feel more powerful.
6. D – delete the bullying message
After you’ve saved evidence of the cyberbullying, delete the message or post. Don’t forward it, repost it, retweet it or send it to other people in any way because they might forward it too.
Helping teenagers who have been cyberbullied
Your child won’t always be able to solve cyberbullying problems on his own. It’s important to step in if you’re concerned. Your loving support is vital to your child’s wellbeing:
Here are some ways you can offer immediate practical and emotional help and support:
- Just listen to your child to start with. Jumping in too quickly to fix the problem can sometimes make it worse, so be sensitive to your child’s needs.
- Let your child know that you’ll help if she wants you to, and that things will get better if the problem is brought out into the open.
- If you need to get your child’s school involved, make sure your child is OK with this and has a say in the process. It might help him to know that telling a teacher is a good idea if he thinks someone from the school is involved.
- Stay calm and resist the temptation to ban your child from using the internet or her mobile phone. Banning online access could make your child less likely to share her online problems. It can also isolate your child from supportive friends online.
- Get professional help if your child seems distressed or withdrawn. Your child can contact Kids Helpline – Teens by phoning 1800 551 800, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Cyberbullying: why it’s hard to spot
Cyberbullying can be tough to spot.
This is because many young people who are being bullied might not realise what’s happening at first.
Also, they sometimes don’t want to tell teachers or parents, perhaps because they feel embarrassed. They might be scared that the cyberbullying will get worse if an adult tries to do something about it, or they might be worried about losing their computer or phone privileges.