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Recognising cyberbullying and what parents can do

For parents there is nothing worse than finding out your child is having a hard time with schoolyard bullies. It is especially hard to find out it is cyberbullying. One in five Australian children are experiencing cyberbullying and the consequences are serious and greatly affect a child’s emotional state.

The Australian Human Rights Commission defines cyberbullying as,

“Cyberbullying is bullying that is done through the use of technology. For example, using the Internet, a mobile phone or a camera to hurt or embarrass someone is considered cyberbullying.”

The effects of online bullying

There has always been taunting and name calling between children in the schoolyard but now with technology and the internet those affected by bullying can be impacted more dramatically. This is due to a few reasons;

  • The hurtful content can be shared so widely and quickly
  • The content can be accessed 24/7
  • Everyone can participate or view the content
  • It is difficult to have the content removed
  • Online bullies can hide behind fake or anonymous accounts

Tips to recognised the behaviour

Victims of cyberbullying are reluctant to ask for help as they feel embarrassed and humiliated. For parents worried about their children, there are a few tell-tale signs that could indicate your child is experiencing cyberbullying;

  • Reluctance to participate in social activities with friends
  • No longer interested in their mobile devices
  • Forming anxious habits (nail biting, grinding teeth etc.)
  • Behavioural changes (irritability, nervous, etc.)
  • Avoidance of school
  • Dramatic changes in sleep behaviour

As a parent there are several courses of action you can take to help put a stop to your child experiencing cyberbullying.

  1. Take screen shots of any conversations or posts that relate to the cyberbullying
  2. Reach out to your child’s school to notify them of the behaviour and ask about their cyber-bullying policy
  3. If the school fails to act, chat to the parents of the bully and calmly explain how this is affecting your child.
  4. Make a complaint to the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner. For more information, click here.

What are you rights as a parent?

Every school in Australia, public and private, should have an anti-bullying and anti-cyberbullying policy. If the school your child attends does not implement the policy and has failed to protect your child, the school could be liable. Schools could also be liable if the cyber bullying occurred on school grounds, during school hours or using technology supplied by the school.

Written by Shine Lawyers on . Last modified: July 13, 2017.

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