A recent survey from the Online Security Alliance found that a staggering 34% of high school students nationwide have been the victims of cyberbullying at some point during their teenage years. While most kids understand the dangers and risks associated with the internet, they are often unaware that they can be victimized online as well. Many kids know their age when making contact online, but some are choosing inappropriate ways of making contact with others.
Cyberbullying is no longer an exclusive domain of teenagers, and although older kids tend to be more adept at using the internet for bullying, younger children can be the victims of cyberbullying as well.
In one recent case in Colorado, a 14-year-old girl was cyberbullied on Facebook throughout the duration of her junior year in high school. Just over a third of the 514 children surveyed stated that they were the victim of cyberbullying during the lockdown; while 50% indicated that they had actually been witness to somebody else getting cyberbullied online as well.
It is not uncommon for kids to remain anonymous when bullied on social media sites, which makes it more likely for them to continue being cyberbullied even after the event has passed.
Even more troubling is that the vast majority of cyberbullies rarely receive any consequences from their offenses, let alone the emotional trauma that being cyberbullied can cause.
HOW TO PREVENT ONLINE THREATS
The solution to cyberbullying during the lockdown begins with establishing rules and policies that will help your child navigate the online environment. Setting limits on how much time online kids are supposed to spend can go a long way towards stopping cyberbullying. Set reasonable expectations regarding what an adult's responsibility is over a child's activity on social media sites. Clarify which areas of social media are off-limits, and enforce rules and policies that will help kids identify and report offensive behavior.
Each social platform offers different tools (see available ones below) that allow you to restrict who can comment on or view your posts or who can connect automatically as a friend, and to report cases of bullying. Many of them involve simple steps to block, mute or report cyberbullying. We encourage you to explore them.
Social media companies also provide educational tools and guidance for children, parents and teachers to learn about risks and ways to stay safe online.
Also, the first line of defense against cyberbullying could be you. Think about where cyberbullying happens in your community and ways you can help – by raising your voice, calling out bullies, reaching out to trusted adults or by creating awareness of the issue. Even a simple act of kindness can go a long way.
If you are worried about your safety or something that has happened to you online, urgently speak to an adult you trust. Many countries have a special helpline you can call for free and talk to someone anonymously. Visit Child Helpline International to find help in your country.
The first line of defense against cyberbullying could be you.
We have a number of tools to help keep young people safe:
- You can opt to ignore all messages from a bully or use our Restrict tool to discreetly protect your account without that person being notified.
- You can moderate comments on your own posts.
- You can modify your settings so that only people you follow can send you a direct message.
- And on Instagram, we send you a notification you’re about to post something that might cross the line, encouraging you to reconsider.
For more tips on how to protect yourself and others from cyberbullying, check out our resources on Facebook or Instagram.
If people on Twitter become annoying or negative we have tools that can help you, and the following list is linked to instructions on how to set these up.
- Mute - removing an account's Tweets from your timeline without unfollowing or blocking that account
- Block - restricting specific accounts from contacting you, seeing your Tweets, and following you
- Report - filing a report about abusive behavior
Notify the school if it is from one of the students
Many schools have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to offensive conduct on social media platforms. If you're concerned about cyberbullying during the lockdown, you should ask your principal or school director about their procedures for reporting and discipline cyberbullying. There are several ways that administrators or teachers can differentiate appropriate conduct from unacceptable conduct in a virtual environment.
Some schools suspend students who cyberbully other students, block social media accounts of students who engage in cyberbullying, or remind students of their conduct may constitute disciplinary actions if it occurs outside of school. In some cases, a simple email or a call to the student's home will suffice to end a student's bullying.
Your school may have a resource or chat group for parents and students to use to communicate during the lockdown. Talking with your child and providing a sense of assurance that everything is alright, can go a long way toward preventing or managing cyberbullying during the school lockdown.
You can also talk about your concerns with your child's teacher during the chat session. The communication from your child during the lockdown will help both you and the teacher establish some boundaries regarding what can and cannot be done online at home during this time.
The vast majority of schools will implement some form of cyberbullying prevention strategy during a school-wide lockdown due to violence or threats towards other students. Implementing a good strategy will go a long way in educating children aged 13 and below about the dangers of cyberbullying. It's very important for youth to understand the potential damage that cyberbullying can cause - but to fight back by taking a stand against it when they feel it is happening or when they experience it first hand.
Are there any online anti-bullying tools for children or young people?
Cyberbullying often violates the terms of service set by social media sites and internet service providers. There are various reporting forms on their site for reporting of these violations. Below, we share the reporting forms of the very popular platforms.
Apart from these, you can detect online threats with SPYERA and similar programs and follow a path according to the detected problem. To see how SPYERA Parental Control Program can help you in this regard, click this link.
Reporting abuse and safety resources