Cyberbullying refers to bullying that occurs through information and communication technology such as phone calls, text messages, emails, Internet chat rooms, instant messaging and social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Cyberbullying activities include leaving insulting or offensive messages on social networking sites, spreading rumors online, sending unwanted emails, text messages or instant messages, and much more. Cyberbullying is particularly concerning as it can happen anywhere and at any time, and so there is no safe haven from the bullying behaviour. This type of bullying can cause great distress, and have a negative impact on a child’s self esteem and self confidence.
Signs to help parents recognise cyberbullying
The secretive and hidden nature of cyberbullying can make it difficult for parents to detect when it is occurring. Some children also feel ashamed when they are a victim of bullying, or may feel afraid to tell others as they believe it may make the situation worse. For this reason, parents need to look at changes in their child’s behaviour, which could give a clue that they may be being bullied. These signs may include:
Sudden aversion to socialising with friends
Disinterest or avoidance of school
Dropping out of sports or other recreational activities
Extreme sleeping behaviour (either lots more or lots less)
Abnormal nail biting or other minor or severe self harming behaviours
Abnormal changes in mood and/or behaviour
Things parents can do
The powerful impact of feeling scared, powerless, helpless, ashamed and other emotions that can result from being cyber bullied, particularly when occurring over a long period, has the capacity for long-lasting effects on children.
Ways that you can protect a child from any long-lasting negative impacts of cyber bullying include:
Take lots of time to hear, listen and understand your child’s story
Discuss cyber bullying with the child and encourage them to tell you if they’re feeling bullied
Be alert to any abnormal behaviour / mood changes
Stay calm while your child is telling you his/her story, and be aware of your own reactions.
Take complaints from the child seriously, do not brush them off
Try to ascertain what ‘meaning’ the child takes from the bullying, for example whether they believe what the bully says about them
Assure the child that it is not their fault.
Strategies for young people to deal with cyberbullying
Tell someone – The most important step is for the child or young person to talk to someone they trust about what is happening. This may be a parent, friend, teacher or counsellor.
Don’t reply to bullying messages – This may make the situation worse. By replying, the bully gets what he or she wants. Often, if the child does not reply, the bully will get bored and leave them alone.
Block the cyberbully – Depending on the way that the bully is communicating with the young person, it may be possible to block their messages or texts. If your child is not sure how, your phone or internet service provider can help you.
Report the problem – Your child’s school may have policies about cyberbullying and can take action against it. Your ISP or phone provider may also be able to help. Websites like Facebook and MySpace have links where you can report abuse.
Keep the evidence – Keeping copies of texts, emails, online conversations or voicemails as evidence can be useful if it comes to tracking the bully down.
Change your contact details – Get a new user name for the internet, a new email account, a new mobile phone number and only give them out to your closest friends.
Keep your username and passwords secret – Keep your personal information private so it doesn’t fall into the hands of someone who’ll misuse it.
If messages are threatening or serious, get in touch with the police – Cyberbullying, if it’s threatening, is illegal and the police may be able to take action.
Information from this article was taken from beyondblue.com.au, parentline.com.au and advice from Kimberley O’Brien Child Psychologist.
Bullying occurs when someone or a group of people cause psychological or physical harm to another person, or damage their property, reputation or social acceptance, on more than one occasion. Bullying can take on many forms. Direct bullying involves physical aggression and verbal attacks. Indirect bullying is more subtle and can include actions such as exclusion and ignoring, spreading rumours, embarrassing and humiliating others.
Bullying has also been reported to occur in internet chat rooms, and via email and text messaging – cyber-bullying. Children who are bullied experience real suffering which can affect their social, emotional and educational development.
New Anti-Harassment Laws will give legal protection for young people tormented by Bullying. The new legislations means young people under the age of 16 will be able to use sexual harassment laws to protect themselves.
How can I tell if my child is being bullied?
Does your child find excuses for not going to school, e.g. being sick?
Is your child tense, tearful and/or unhappy before or after school?
Does your child have unexplained bruises or scratches?
Is your child showing difficulties sleeping such as nightmares or bedwetting?
Does your child talk about not liking school or other children at school?
Have you noticed your child’s standard of school work declining?
Have you noticed a change in the usual behaviour pattern of your child?
Does your child have a lack of friends at school?
How can I tell if my child is bullying others?
Does your child talk about his/her peers in a negative or aggressive way?
Does your child have money, toys or other items that do not belong to him/her?
Does your child have difficulties getting along easily with others?
Is your child involved in a peer group that supports bullying behaviour?
What can I do if I am or someone I know being bullied?
There are many things you can do to deal with bullying and this includes trying to deal with it yourself, like ignoring the bully, hanging out with friends, and being confident.
If bullying does not stop, you should seek help. Talk to a friend, a family member, teacher or psychologist. Talking to someone will help you feel better.
Find out about your school anti-bullying policy. Not dough this has happened to many other people before and there will be a standard approach to addressed.
If bullying happens outside school – it can be useful to ask any witnesses to support you as you approach authority figures like bus drivers, police or similar.
It is important to deal with bullying immediately to reduce the likelihood of it reoccurring over a longer period of time.
How can the Quirky Kid Clinic help my child?
If you suspect your child may be experiencing bullying, or bullying others, please contact the Quirky Kid Clinic on (02) 9362 9297 to discuss the following options:
Individual counselling and therapy with one of our experienced Child Psychologists
“The Best of friends” and “Self Esteem” workshops for individuals and class groups
Kimberley O’Brien, our principal child psychologist, discussed child counselling with the ABC South East Radio Morning show presenter. You can find more information on how counselling may benefit your child by visiting our resources page or discussing it on our forum.
If you have a story and would like to discuss it with us, please contact us to schedule a time. Kimberley O’Brien enjoys sharing the best of her therapeutic moments with the media. View our media appearances to-date.document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);
Kimberley O’Brien and Jacqui Olsson attended a seminar on Assessment and Treatment of Abusive families on Tuesday, 16th November 2009. The seminar was presented by Dr Chris Lennings, an expert who has been working in this field for over 30 years.
Topics covered in the seminar included an examination of the victims of abuse, the effects abuse has on the family, how to assess abuse, and providing treatment for both victims and perpetrators.
Children with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) experience high levels of anxiety and worry about a number of events or activities, and find it difficult to control these worries. They may worry about as punctuality, school performance or catastrophic events such as earthquakes. The intensity, duration or frequency of the child’s worries is far out of proportion to the actual likelihood of what they fear. In addition to their worries, these children often experience restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension and disturbed sleep. Children with GAD typically seek approval excessively and require constant reassurance about their performance and their other worries.
What should I look for?
Does your child have excessive anxiety or worry about a number of events or activities?
Does your child find it difficult to control their worries?
Does your child appear restless or ‘on edge’?
Is your child easily fatigued?
Does your child have difficulty concentrating?
Does your child appear irritable?
Does your child appear tense?
Does your child have difficulty falling or staying asleep?
Does your child have restless and unsatisfying sleep?
The Quirky Kid Shoppe has select useful resources for parenting and children experiencing Separation Anxiety and others forms of Anxiety.
How can the Quirky Kid Clinic help your child?
The Quirky Kid Clinic is a unique place for children and adolescents aged 2-18 years. We work from the child’s perspective to help them find their own solutions. If you suspect your child may be experiencing symptoms of Generalised Anxiety Disorder you might consider one of the following options: