Category Archives: Bullying

Cyberbullying: How to protect your children

What is cyberbullying?

Bullying has always been a part of young people’s lives.  However cyberbullying can follow a child 24:7 wherever they go, so there is no escape. It is defined as using technology to embarrass, harass, threaten or target another person, making them feel uncomfortable, upset or unsafe.  It is usually deliberate and repetitive. Recent studies show at least 1 in 4 teens have been victims of cyberbullying.

The stereotypical playground bully does not necessarily fit the profile of an online bully.  The screen provides an anonymity which psychologists call ‘disinhibition’. People may say or do things they would never do in person if they were looking into the whites of their recipient’s eyes.

Typical signs of cyberbullying

  • Avoiding friends or school in general
  • Changes in mood, behaviour, loss of appetite, not sleeping
  • Being very secretive about their online life
  • Being nervous, moody or jumpy after looking at a screen
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and usual activities
  • Poor marks at school
  • Getting angry, irritable or upset very quickly (tricky as most teens do this anyway!)
  • Suddenly not wanting to use screens
  • Frequent headaches or stomach issues.

When your child is being bullied

  • The first step is to offer empathy and support. Just try to be a sounding board so your child feels comfortable to open up and talk.  Listen to your child about what has been going on and how it makes them feel. 
  • Praise and thank them for telling you, which takes a lot of courage. 
  • Explain that it’s not their fault and bullying always says more about the bully than the victim.
  • Stay calm.  Try not to over react, get upset, angry or take over the problem.  Agree with them what are the next steps they should take and what approach they would feel comfortable with.
  • Discourage your child from retaliating or reacting as this often fuels the bully’s behaviour.
  • Keep a detailed log of incidents and evidence, then report it to the school and use the ‘report abuse’ facility on social media.
  • Block the bully online and have strong passwords.
  • Encourage your child to engage in activities they enjoy to relax and boost their self-esteem and confidence.

When your child is the bully

  • Talk to your child firmly and explain why any form of bullying is wrong, the negative impact it has and how they can stop.
  • Restrict the use of devices, having a phone is a privilege.
  • Try to look under the surface to identify what led to the bullying.  It can be simply about feeling lonely or bored.
  • Perhaps engage a therapist to give your child tools to cope with their anger, upset, frustration etc

Preventative measures to keep your child safe online

The more time children spend online, the more likely they are to be bullied or be a bully.

  • Set clear rules about boundaries around the use of screens, particularly with regards to the use of social media.
  • Teach and model important values such as kindness, respect and empathy.  This applies online just as much as face to face in the ‘real world.’
  • Be involved and talk to them very regularly about what they are doing online, just as you are aware of what they do offline.  Sit with them and check their postings or messages every now and then.  Know which sites they like to use and how they function.
  • Keep screens in a central part of the home. No screens in bedrooms, particularly during the night.  You can turn off messages and apps during certain times.
  • Reassure your child that your job as a parent is to know what’s going and to keep them safe. 
  • Check out all your child’s privacy settings and parental controls.
  • For children under the age of 16 it is probably advisable to know their passwords.
  • Educate your child about not sharing passwords (other than with you) or any personal information. 
  • Be aware that a lot of bullying happens on sleepovers in a group, when kids feed off each other and may do things they would never do if they were alone.
  • Explain the importance of only connecting with people you have met in person and trust.  Once you have posted, you have no control over where the information goes or how it is used.
  • Discuss what they would do if they saw something that made them feel uncomfortable or upset or if they saw someone else being bullied.  How would they handle it? Who would they tell? What if they saw a friend being left out or nasty messages being posted?

It can be extremely upsetting for parents whether you find out your child is being bullied or if they are the actual bully.

Connect with your child regularly and show you listen and understand. You know your child better than anyone else.

Rachel Vecht……..

Protect Your Child From Cyber Bullying


November has an Anti Bullying Week! This is a time to bring focus to the pervasive issues that surround bullying. This year, Bullying UK is focused on cyber bullying. Many parents of teenagers, including myself, did not grow up in the world of social media. We are learning alongside our children skills like: online etiquette, privacy boundaries and the impact of a 24/7 spotlight on life.
The digital world can feel like a minefield for parents. We want to allow our children a space to be themselves without being overbearing. However, we also know how vulnerable they can be to predators, bullies and cultural influencers that may not be the best role models.

Here are just a few tips to help bully proof your children in the cyber world.

Graduate Their Privacy

Many parents feel that when they allow their children to have social media accounts, it’s an all or nothing. However, there are many steps that a parent can take to make sure their child is ready for the responsibility. Start on one platform where you are a friend. I would suggest making up a fake profile so that it is not obvious to your child’s other friends that their parent is on there. This way, you can keep an eye on what gets posted. If they have a video channel like YouTube or Musically, have a rule that you approve all videos before posting. Gradually, as they show responsibility, you increase their level of privacy.

Make Clear Rules and Boundaries Around Privacy Settings

This is an area where children become the most vulnerable. They love to collect followers and want as many as possible as social proof of their popularity. However, if they have no restrictions, the trolls will come calling. It is too easy to make a fake profile and become a cowardly abuser. Privacy restrictions bring accountability for users.

Teach the Power of a Platform

Trolls thrive on attention. If children engage with their hate speak, it gives them that attention. Teach your children the power of blocking, banning and reporting trolls. Starve the trolls of their attention and they will go eat elsewhere. Report the trolls and the powers that be will deal with the account. Dismissing them helps to take away the validity of everything that they say.

Talk About the Permanent Nature of the Internet

One of the biggest advocates for victims of bullying is Monica Lewinsky. Think what you will about her, but her life is a cautionary tale for knowing who to trust and what to keep private. Because she was recorded being chatty on the phone with a wolf in friend’s clothing, her life was changed forever. Flash forward to the cyber generation. Teens are posting and messaging private, intimate details and pictures to “friends” assuming that they will remain private, only to be horrified when those most intimate details are forwarded on to their entire year in a matter of seconds. People all over the world are losing employment and friends due to insensitive comments that they put in print years ago. Help your children by pointing out examples of all of this and constantly revisiting the conversation.

Self-Confidence is Their Biggest Weapon

Prevention is always more powerful than Intervention. Using Positive Parenting techniques to help your child grow up with a strong sense of self and an understanding and acceptance of values is the best way for them to become resilient. This is the best armor with which we can equip our children for battling bullying of any kind. They are less vulnerable when they define themselves rather than rely on others to define them.

Lead by Example

At Educating Matters, we know that a parent is a child’s first and most important teacher. They are watching you and learning from your actions. When you are able to effectively deal with trolls, limit what you post and behave with dignity online, they will learn to value those things as well. Show children from an early age how you edit and reword your posts. Ask your child’s permission before sharing a story or a possibly embarrassing picture. This will subtly share and bolster the values you have around making cyberspace as safe and positive as you can despite the choices of others around them.

Bullying: All Different, All Equal

It was Anti-Bullying week in the UK. It is a time to raise awareness on the complex and life changing issues surrounding bullying. Schools around the country will be running assemblies and having class discussions to offer skills and strategies for helping children recognize and cope with bullying.

This year’s theme is “All Different, All Equal”. The focus is on not only recognising, but celebrating the diversity of our world whilst guaranteeing the right of each individual to live in a world where they are allowed to shine as themselves.

In years past, the focus on awareness days has been on “the victim”. Whilst well intentioned, these themes have an incredibly disempowering effect on those that have been bullied. A victim has little to no power. The very word “victim” elicits feelings of pity.

Changing the language we use around bullies changes the impact they have on those they attack. Sue Anderson’s work reframes the entire situation by changing the language. Rather than being a “victim” of a bully, there is a target. The term target has no qualifying characteristics. Anything and anyone can be chosen as a target.

Parents have the ability to help their children become undesirable as a target of bullying by developing resilience and self-esteem. A bully targets to elicit a reaction. If a child is empowered to know that their differences are “a good thing”, they will not give a bully the reaction they desire. Likewise, if our children develop the ability to communicate needs, frustrations and feelings, they are more likely to become a bully.

It is important to remember that bullies and their targets are suffering. They are unable to sit comfortably and securely in their individuality. It is the responsibility for all adults in the lives of these children to provide effective support for lasting emotional wellbeing.

Educating Matters provide workplace seminars or private parenting coaching on positively making all children ‘unbullyable’.