Bullying is an aggressive behaviour that is intentional and repeated. It involves an imbalance of power or strength that causes another person injury or discomfort.
Bullying can be physical, verbal, relational or more subtle actions. The bullied individual typically has trouble defending himself or herself and does nothing to ‘cause’ it. While boys may bully others using more physical means, girls often do so by social exclusion.
More recently, technology and social media have impacted bullying among preteens and teens by acting as a new platform, having stretched its scope. What used to be a face-to-face encounter that occurred in specific locations is now able to occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These websites allow kids to send hurtful, ongoing messages; some
Cyber bullying is one that happens online and via mobile phones. It includes sending cruel or intimidating emails or instant messages, spreading rumours or posting humiliating or modesty-inappropriate photos of others.
Children may not always be vocal about being bullied. Signs include ripped clothing, reluctance about going to school, reduced appetite, nightmares, crying, general depression and anxiety.
If you discover your child is being bullied, don’t tell them to let it go or to swallow it in silence. Instead, have open-ended dialogues where you can learn what is really going on at school so that you can take the appropriate steps to rectify the situation. Most importantly, let your child know you will help him and that they should try not to fight back.
Researches say that not all children feel misery when they’re victims of online bullying. It causes apprehension when it involves offline contact or an adult harasser.
Young victims are more likely to report social problems and interpersonal victimisation. Being victimised also increases their chances of harassing peers online themselves. Research has revealed that 68 percent of cyber bullying victims spoke up about their harassment to friends, parents or other authority figures. Disclosure provides an opportunity for parents and others to ask whether the child is struggling socially or experiencing communication problems with peers. They can then work with the child to find ways to prevent future incidents.
What can be done
Educate yourself and your children about cyber bullying. Teach them not to respond or forward threatening emails.
If you give your child a mobile phone, then let them know you will be monitoring their messages. Parents should report bullying to the school and follow up with a letter that is copied to the principal if the initial inquiry receives no response.
Cyber bullying can be very damaging to adolescents and teens. It can lead to anxiety, depression and even suicide.
Parents should report all threatening messages to the police and should document any text messages, emails or posts on websites.