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Understanding Cyberbullying: A Guide for Parents

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Following a presentation for our Year 5 to 9 students by CYTA, today we would like to emphasise the importance of parents in the role of stopping Cyberbullying and protecting their children.

In today’s digital age, cyberbullying has become a significant concern for parents and us as teachers. This year we have had a number of incidents of Cyberbullying, which we take seriously, and should be as worldwide a number of students have taken their own lives as a result of Cyberbulling. Additionally it is a legal matter, and in Cyprus children as young as 14 years can receive a police record depending on their actions.

As children spend more time online, the risk of encountering hurtful behaviour increases. In this blog we will explain what cyberbullying is, its impact, and practical steps parents can take to protect their children.

What Is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying refers to the use of digital communication tools (such as social media, messaging apps, or online forums) to harass, intimidate, or harm others. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying occurs in virtual spaces, making it harder to escape and often affecting victims even within the perceived safety of their homes. Although it is harder for us as teachers to identify the perpetrators the Police can do this using IP addresses, and do so.

This is a serious issue that has increased in our school, as well as around the world. Worryingly among adolescents (ages 10 to 13) approximately 12% report cyberbullying others and around 1 in 6 adolescents have experienced cyberbullying,

What Can Parents Do?

As a parent, you play a crucial role in preventing and addressing cyberbullying:

  1. Open Communication: Talk to your child about their online experiences. Encourage them to share any incidents of cyberbullying without fear of judgment.
  2. Digital Literacy: Teach your child about responsible online behaviour, privacy settings, and the importance of treating others kindly.
  3. Monitor Online Activity: Keep an eye on your child’s online interactions. Be aware of the platforms they use and who they communicate with.
  4. Empathy and Kindness: Instill empathy and kindness in your child. Remind them that their words and actions online have real-world consequences.
  5. Report and Block: Teach your child how to report cyberbullying incidents and block harmful individuals. Taking screenshots of any inappropriate behaviour is crucial in being able to report bullying. You can also contact the hotline 1480.
  6. School Involvement: Collaborate with teachers and school staff. At ISOP we have a clear policy on cyberbullying and will support families if such incidents are reported where we can.

Cyberbullying is a growing concern, but parents can make a difference. By fostering digital literacy, empathy, and open communication, we can create safer online spaces for our children. It takes a village to combat cyberbullying. Let’s stand together to protect our students.

Finally, as a parent, it’s essential to recognise the signs of cyberbullying early on. Here are some warning signs that may indicate your child is being cyberbullied:

  1. Increased Device Usage: If your child suddenly uses their devices significantly more (or less), it could be a sign they’re experiencing cyberbullying1.
  2. Emotional Reactions: Watch for extreme emotional reactions after using devices. If your child appears upset or overly emotional, it might be related to online interactions1.
  3. Deleting Social Media Accounts: If your child deletes social media accounts or opens new ones frequently, they may be trying to escape cyberbullying.
  4. Withdrawal from Social Events: A child who becomes withdrawn and avoids social events where peers are present might be dealing with cyberbullying.
  5. Mood Changes: Drastic mood swings or sudden changes in emotions could be a red flag.
  6. Complaints About Physical Symptoms: Some children complain about physical symptoms (like headaches or stomach aches) to avoid going to school.

If you notice any of these signs, consider discussing their online interactions and seeking professional help if necessary. It is often the case that children are ashamed or embarrassed to report instances. If you are concerned please contact teh school and remember to maintain open communication with your child and create a safe space for them to share their experiences