CYBER-BULLYING - ADVICE FOR PARENTS, CARERS AND STUDENTS
Cyber-bullying is when someone uses the internet or mobile devices to deliberately cause upset to someone else. This is a form of bullying and it should not be tolerated.
How is it different to other types of bullying?
This type of bullying involves technology such as mobile phones or the internet.
This type of bullying can affect someone not just at school, but at home as well.
Because this type of bullying takes place in the virtual world, it has a 24/7 nature and can make someone feel upset or threatened in their own home, at anytime of the day or night.
It can sometimes be hard to identify who the cyber-bully is because they can block their number or post things on a website anonymously.
The nature of this type of bullying means it can have a large audience, many of whom may not even realise they are being bullies.
What can I do about cyber-bullying?
One positive thing about this kind of bullying is that it can be evidenced.
With normal bullying, it can be one person’s word against another’s, but with cyber-bullying you can save texts or print out emails / IM’s / Web-Pages.
Save all evidence you have of the bullying. If you have nasty emails or things posted on your profile save them to your device so you can use it as proof.
Save texts or voicemails that say anything horrible. Learn how to block the bully on IM or delete them from your contacts.
Try not to reply or retaliate to things they say or do; it might make the situation worse. If you don’t respond, they are more likely to get bored and move on.
If you are being bothered via text, contact your service provider. Each network has a special area for this sort of problem. Check out their website or call them for advice or a free number change.
•O2: or 08705214000
•Vodafone: 191 from a Vodafone phone or 08700700191 (pay monthly) & 08700776655 (pay as you go)
•3: call 333 from a 3 phone or 0870733033
•Orange: Call 450 on an Orange phone or 07973100450
•T-Mobile: Call 150 on a T-mobile phone or 08454125000
Although bullying is not a specific criminal offence in UK law, criminal and civil laws can apply in terms of, for example, harassment or threatening behaviour, and particularly relevant for cyberbullying – threatening and menacing communications:
•Protection from Harassment Act 1997, which has both criminal and civil provision
•Malicious Communications Act 1988
•Section 43 of the Telecommunications Act 1984
•Communications Act 2003
•Public Order Act 1986
Be careful what information you give out on your profile. Remember that you don’t know who your friend’s friends are… or your friend’s friends’ friends! And you don’t know what they’ll do with your picture or your phone number if you give it out by mistake. Once your picture is out there, it’s out there forever and you won’t be able to get it back.
Be aware that information on your profile could potentially be viewed by anyone. So if you wouldn’t be comfortable printing it off and handing it out on the street, maybe it shouldn’t be on your profile.
Use a nickname or your initials instead of your name – you don’t want just anyone knowing who you are. Consider changing your photo to a cool graphic or picture of your favourite band, that way strangers won’t have access to a picture of you. It’s not a great idea to post where you’re going on your profile or twitter or where you live. Think through if you’d want everyone who can view the post to turn up at any time!
Many employers research interview candidates on social networking sites, so be careful what you write. Boasting about your wild behaviour, drinking or other inappropriate activities may come back to haunt you. Similarly may employers reference social networking sites to ensure their employees are not giving the company a bad name. Do not use such sites to comment on how fed-up you are at work, or that you are having a day-off because you are bored; this could result in your dismissal.
Who can I contact for help?
If you feel anyone is causing distress to you or your friends; or if someone is bullying you on one of these sites – contact the administrator of the chat area.
If the administrator does not get back to you – you might want to think twice about using the site again.
If it’s really serious – like you think the person contacting you may be an adult who wants to abuse you or your mates, report the issue on or by using www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre/
As with all types of bullying, you must seek help from an adult who will guide you through what to do next. If matters become too bad however you should consider contacting the local police station to report a potential hate crime.
Use your Privacy Settings at all times.
Adjust your account settings (sometimes called “Privacy Settings”) so only approved friends can instant message you. This won’t ruin your social life – new people can still send you friend requests and message you, they just won’t be able to pester you via IM.
This means that people you don’t want to see your profile can’t!
Remember that occasionally you may need to reset your Privacy Settings after updates or other changes.
Some social networking sites are really well run and the administrators will try to help you.
Remember to keep your personal information to yourself.
Be careful when choosing which social networking site you use and which areas you go into.
What is the school doing to help avoid cyber bullying?
Firstly all social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked on the school internet. That is to say they cannot be accessed by the school machines. This is of course unless a proxy server is used, which in itself is against the school rules. A breach of the school’s ICT agreement is a serious matter.
The use of mobile phones in school is prohibited unless overtly directed by a member of staff i.e. when used a camera on a school trip. The policy is very clear, “all mobile phone should be switched off during school time”. This prevents cyber bullying from being carried out in school.
PSHE lessons and regular assemblies reinforce the issues associated with cyber bullying; every student should know what to do to in the event of cyber-bullying and who to speak to.
Student planners carry information relating to cyber-bullying and should be referred to as and when required.
The school has themself reported issues to the police. These issues occurred out side of the school but impacted upon the education of individuals.
What can parents do to help?
Monitor what your son / daughter “uploads” to social networking sites to ensure they are not including inappropriate or unpleasant comments / information.
Encourage your son / daughter not to retaliate in a tit-for-tat fashion, if they receive unpleasant attention, but to save any necessary evidence before deleting and blocking the contact.
Do not become involved yourself. Emotions run deep where children are concerned and replying to comments without gleaning the full picture and evidence is not always the best move.
Make full use of the reporting pathways including CEOP and or the police if necessary.
Prevent your son / daughter from being secluded in their room for hours on end with unsupervised access to the internet.
Contact the school for further advice and guidance but please remember we have no control over messaging and the internet outside of the school.
Speak to your son / daughter about how others could interpret their own comments / actions and how this might make them feel.