Here at Cloud Happi, we recognise that the internet has many benefits, especially when it comes to learning. Our cloud-based, cost-effective IT provision for schools brings many opportunities to improve all pupils’ learning opportunities. But technology is not without its problems, and one important one that schools should recognise is the upsurge in online bullying in recent years.
What is cyberbullying
Unfortunately, bullying can happen everywhere, whether in a school environment, on the walk home from school or in an online environment. It can happen to any child’s age and isn‘t just something that happens to the most awkward child in a group. It can also happen to those who are more popular and have a larger friendship group.
The dictionary describes bullying as an occasion when a group or individual(s) seek to intimidate, harm, or coerce another person who may be perceived as being vulnerable.
Bullying can encompass a range of behaviours face to face, including physical, emotional, or verbal abuse. When this bullying moves into an online environment, it takes the form of cyberbullying. This is a form of abuse that is growing, and with the increased use of technology that is around, it is unfortunate that more and more children are finding themselves the subject of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying can take several forms; it might be the child is excluded from online games or friendship groups, receives threatening messages, is the victim of trolling or that there are even hate groups set up against them
What can we do to protect children against cyberbullying?
It is virtually impossible to protect children fully against any form of bullying. Still, there are things that you can do to ensure that you can help prevent this bullying from becoming a problem, even online.
Parents and schools must help children understand what behaviour is and isn‘t acceptable in an online environment. This means making sure that they know exactly what bullying behaviour they might encounter or might perpetuate themselves. It is all too easy for the written word to be taken the wrong way, and whilst name–calling may seem relatively harmless to some children, the child who is bullying is unlikely to see it this way.
Blocking is often the best, and indeed the first step, that should be taken against online bullies so make sure that children understand how they can block someone who is bullying them whether this is on the internet or even via text message.
Spotting the signs
If a child is spending long periods online and their behaviour has changed, perhaps they have become more insular, appear sad, or even become ruder in speaking to others. They may be the victim of cyberbullying. It is unfortunately unlikely that they will volunteer the information to an adult if asked directly. Let them know that if anything is bothering them, you are available to talk to.
Your school will have an anti-bullying policy, and this should include an anti–cyberbullying section. If parents suspect a child is being cyberbullied, then you should discuss parents‘ concerns with them as soon as possible. As a teacher, if you suspect that a child in your care is being bullied, it is crucial to follow the anti-bullying policies.