Bullying is not a normal part of childhood and should never happen in any form. Unfortunately, this is a common struggle for children and young people today, and advancing technology only increases the risk. The long-term impact of cyberbullying on a young person’s physical and mental wellbeing can be profound. Cyberbullying, as with all bullying, can contribute to mental health disorders, substance misuse, and, in extreme cases, suicidal ideation.
In this blog, we offer key advice to reduce bullying and mitigate its impact on children and young people. Every child has the right to live in a safe and healthy environment free from bullying, harassment and intimidation in all forms.
What is Cyberbullying?
The National Bullying Helpline defines Cyberbullying as bullying and harassment using technology. This includes trolling, mobbing, stalking, grooming, or any form of abuse online. Cyberbullying can be more difficult to escape than offline bullying, this form of bullying does not stop at the school gates.
Unfortunately, cyberbullying is only getting worse. In 2011, 11% of parents in the UK reported that their child was the victim of Cyberbullying. In 2018, this figure rose to 18%. The most recent survey by Ditch the Label reports 27% of children have experienced a form of cyberbullying in 2020, with 11% having experienced cyberbullying through online games.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the amount of daily screen time for everyone. Now more than ever, children and young people view online interactions as equal to in-person interactions. This can only increase the harmful effects of cyberbullying.
What You Need to Know
Childline has reported an 87% increase in calls concerning cyberbullying in the last three years
The Cyberbullying Research Centre has found that girls are more likely to be cyberbullied than boys
There are signs to look out for which may signal that your child is being bullied. Read about them in our recent blog here
What to do if a Child or Young Person in Your Care is Being Bullied Online
Children and young people in your care may not use the word bullying to describe what is happening to them, so it’s important to listen if they mention things which are upsetting them or worrying them online. You can use the following advice if a child or young person describes an experience which sounds like, or is, online bullying:
Take the time to listen to them and try not to interrupt. It is important not to get angry or upset at the situation
Don’t stop them from accessing social media platforms or online games. This will likely feel like punishment and may stop them from confiding in you in the future
Reassure the child or young person that things will change, and that they have done the right thing by telling you. This can help reduce any anxiety they might be feeling
Make sure the child or young person knows that it is not their fault and that they have done nothing wrong
As a parent or carer, it is important not to get involved or retaliate in cases of online bullying. This will likely make the situation worse for the child or young person
Talk to your child about what they would like to see happen. Involving them in how the bullying is resolved will help them feel in control of the situation
Online bullying can have serious adverse effects on the lives of children and young people,
but by remaining vigilant and following our key advice, it is possible to mitigate the impact on victims and stop the bullying.