Cyberbullying is a form of bullying in which the attacks are not physical but are carried out via digital media (smartphones, internet). These attacks can take place without personal contact between the victim and the perpetrator. Cyberbullying is carried out by a group, usually has one or more leaders and some accomplices.
Electronic forms of communication (emails, messages, social media, chat rooms, blogs, photos and videos from and to mobile phones) are used to attack a victim. The definition of cyberbullying means that these attacks take place over a longer period of time, but short, intensive attacks can also be extremely stressful for a victim.
Cyberbullying can be carried out in the following ways:
- Sending rude, vulgar or threatening emails, posts etc.
- Groups are created in messengers to denounce and expose the victim.
- Creation of fake profiles with which falsehoods are spread on social networks.
- Theft of personal data to access personal online accounts and create false online profiles that expose the owner
- Cyberstalking – Sending messages that cause uneasiness and insecurity at the recipient
- Defamation – Incorrect reporting or disclosure of personal information to isolate a person from their surroundings or friends
- Exclusion – Exclusion of a person from an online group or an online game
- Threatening calls with an unknown number
Effects on victims: loss of self-esteem, loss of confidence in oneself and others, fear of social contacts, development of various fears, tendencies towards social isolation, loneliness and depression as well as missing goals for your life or your career.
The immediate or long-term effects are more or less pronounced depending on the level of support from friends, family and school.
Signs that your child may have been bullied: low mood, less contact with friends, changes in appetite; Pain or discomfort (e.g. abdominal pain, headache); School refusal, a drop in school performance; shows symptoms of social isolation and believes that it is rejected at school; generally it builds up personal protective armor.
Causes of perpetrators: envy, resentment, boredom, addiction to violence, experiences of violence in childhood, the perpetrators have not learned to behave differently (lacking skills to regulate emotions). Most of the perpetrators themselves were victims of bullying before (!)
Causes of accomplices: The desire to belong to the group, fear of being victimized, lack of interest, thoughtlessness.
Effects on the parents of victims, accomplices and perpetrators: Often they do not feel able to change the situation. They feel overwhelmed and do not know who can offer help.
Parents can always help! Your role as a parent is critical to protecting your child (as a victim, accomplice, or perpetrator) from, or participating in, or detached from, digital bullying processes. The “key” is the correct and regular communication between you as a legal guardian and your child.
- Preventive talks
- Children’s lives also include their online experiences. Keep in touch with your child about the apps, programs, games, chats used.
- Find out about the websites, apps and games your child visits
- Discuss with your children (if possible already at an early age) how online rules can be implemented.
- How do you deal with it if you receive inappropriate pictures or messages, how should your child deal with it?
- Most children and adolescents are involved in a bullying event at some point. Often as an accomplice, think about what can be done in such a case with your child.
If you or your child watch others being bullied
- Show courage and name the problem.
- Save evidence and show it to those involved and possibly their parents, teachers …
- Use the channel through which the cyberbullying took place (Whatsapp, Facebook….)
- Get the problem where it belongs. Victims, accomplices and perpetrators need support.
If you suspect that your child is being bullied:
- Handle your injured child with care
- Threats of punishment, or “simple solutions”, such as “Then don’t look at the cell phone” destroy the trust between you and your child.
- Your child needs security so that it can open up and talk about what has happened.
If it is confirmed that your child has been bullied:
- Secure the evidence with screenshots.
- Together with your child, consider what would help them and determine the next steps together.
- Get help and support from the police and / or school.
- Talk about the topic without exposing your child.
Other possible activities:
- Block the cyber bullies.
- Notify the police if you want to file a complaint
- If the perpetrator is known, the perpetrator’s school and parents should be informed, if necessary the police
- Get psychological help if the victim is scared.
- At long last, the aim of this measure should be to “cure” the injury inflicted on the victim or perpetrator and not to impose sanctions.