Cyberbullying / La Cyberintimidation

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What is Cyberbullying?

Sending mean messages or threats to a person’s email account or cell phone

Spreading rumours online or through texts

Posting hurtful or threatening messages on social networking sites or web pages

Stealing a person’s account information to break into their account and send damaging messages

Pretending to be someone else online to hurt another person

Taking unflattering pictures of a person and spreading them through cell phones or the Internet

Sexting, or circulating sexually suggestive pictures or messages about a person

MEDIASMARTS.CA is a Canadian website that addresses digital and media literacy with a number of resources for parents who are trying to help make their kids more savvy.

What can you do to help?

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Talks to teens about cyber bullying, explaining that it is wrong and can have serious consequences. Make a rule that teens may not send mean or damaging messages, even if someone else started it, or suggestive pictures or messages or they will lose their cell phone and computer privileges for a time.

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Teens should not share anything through text or instant messaging on their cell phone or the Internet that they would not want to be made public - remind teens that the person they are talking to in messages or online may not be who they think they are, and that things posted electronically may not be secure.

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Encourage teens never to share personal information online or to meet someone they only know online.

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Keep the computer in a shared space like the family room, and do not allow teens to have Internet access in their own rooms.

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Parents may want to wait until high school to allow their teens to have their own email and cell phone accounts, and even then parents should still have access to the accounts.

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Encourage teens to tell an adult if cyber bullying is occurring. Tell them if they are the victims they will not be punished, and reassure them that being bullied is not their fault.

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Teens should never tell their password to anyone except a parent, and should not write it down in a place where it could be found by others.

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Teens should keep cyber bullying messages as proof that the cyber bullying is occurring. The teens' parents may want to talk to the parents of the cyber bully, to the bully's Internet or cell phone provider, and/or to the police about the messages, especially if they are threatening or sexual in nature.

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Try blocking the person sending the messages. It may be necessary to get a new phone number or email address and to be more cautious about giving out the new number or address.

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Encourage teens to have times when they turn off the technology, such as at family meals or after a certain time at night.

TAKING ACTION – BEFORE AND AFTER IT HAPPENS:

  • Flood the Feed by adding more positive photos and messages to a site to ‘bury’ a negative comment or photo.
  • Limit Access by not allowing third party apps to access your contact information, location, photos or personal profile information.
  • Use Print Screen or Copy to capture an image or text to save evidence of digital abuse.
  • Disable Location Services in your photos – they carry embedded location information (geotagging), making you easier to find.
  • Cover Your Webcam Lens because some viruses can remotely activate your webcam.
  • Only Add Friends You Know In Real Life. Ask someone sending you a friend request a ‘skill-testing question’ to prove they really are who they say they are.
  • Report It. Many schools and websites have anonymous reporting features.
  • Sort Your Friend List on Facebook by family, close friends an acquaintances so you can share your status updates with the right audience.

Learn more at: mediasmarts.ca

Parents Should Understand the Following:

Roles change. Today the bully. Tomorrow, the bullied. Children are not fixed in their roles. Depending on the situation, children can just as easily be the bully as they can the target.

Your child has a private life. Parents must assume and accept that they won’t know everything that goes on with their child.

Kids have 2 sides. Children will act differently at home than they will at school. Your 7th grade son who kisses you goodnight before grabbing his stuffed animal will never show that side of himself to his friends.

You’re still a good parent. There are many reasons why parents aren’t aware of their child’s inappropriate behavior, and it’s not because the parent is irresponsible.

After the Dreaded Call

Breathe. Take a deep breath and be receptive to what you may hear.

Be grateful you’ve been alerted. Thank the parent or teacher for informing you and acknowledge how difficult it was for them to make the call.

Take a moment. Accept that you may need time to process what you heard.

Make a pledge. Assure the parent or school that you will talk with your child.

Take their info. Follow up if you need to get further understanding, or to discuss what you are doing to address the problem.

Hey Parents! If you relate to the video below, it’s time for a change.

PSA PRODUCED BY CTV LONDON

Research shows that children who resort to bullying often:

Lack empathy and compassion for others’ feelings

May be expressing anger about events in their lives

Want to be in control

Have low self esteem

May be trying to impress their peers

Come from families where parents or siblings bully

Do not receive adequate parental attention or supervision

Have parents that do not enforce discipline

May be the victims of bullying and are trying to retaliate

What can you do?

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Parents must hold their child accountable - even if the child feels he was provoked. Ask your child if any part of what the school or other parent said is true. Why?

It prevents putting your child in a position to lie. You are saying to your child, “Okay, there’s a lot about your story that I believe, but is there anything about the other side of the story that has merit?”

This allows you to get as much of the story as possible while also getting your child to try and see things from another point of view

The accused child may be so focused on defending his innocence or justifying his actions, he may gloss over the other party’s side, or minimize the impact of his behavior

The child must accept responsibility for his or her role in the situation

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Parents must open the lines of communication with their children.

Parents should try to find the source of their child’s anger. Is something happening at school? At home? In the case of repeated incidents, are there impulse control or anger management issues?

Parents should work to instill empathy and help the child understand the power of words and actions. Ask the child: How would you feel if someone did this to you? How would you feel if someone treated your sister this way?’

Role play so that the child can learn the appropriate way to deal with a situation.

What NOT to do.

What should parents not do when confronted with the news that their child acted in an unsavoury manner?

Don’t look for someone to blame, as in: “She didn’t learn that at home. It must be when she spent time with her cousins!”

Don’t justify the behaviour by saying, “Well, this happened to my child so he was just acting in response.’ Remember the saying ? Two wrongs don’t make a right?

Don’t say, “I know my child and she would never do that!” You don’t necessarily know who she is on the playground or at a slumber party.

Bullies are made, not born.

If left unchecked, bullying can lead to serious life-altering consequences. If your child has adopted bullying behaviours, you can help him or her turn things around and get back on a better track. So open those lines of communication. And don’t forget to show some compassion along with that firm hand– your child is watching.

Anti-Bullying Coalitions

A PARENT GUIDE FOR ADDRESSING BULLYING IN PUBLICLY FUNDED SCHOOLS IN ONTARIO
READ MORE

Mandi Fields

Co-Chair

CTV London – Community Investments
Email: mandi.fields@bellmedia.ca Phone: 519-691-2883 x 383

Matthew Sereda

Co-Chair

Thames Valley District School Board – Safe Schools
Email: Matthew.Sereda@tvdsb.on.ca
Phone: 519-452-2000 ext 20048