Bullying is not a normal part of childhood and should never happen. 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 victims. Always remember that 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, as it doesn’t stop after school.

Unfortunately, cyberbullying is 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%. This number is expected to continue to rise and has increased worldwide during the lockdown.

What You Need to Know

  • Ditch the label, a youth charity estimates that 5.43 million young people in the UK have been the victims of cyberbullying, with 1.26 million people suffering extreme cyberbullying on a daily basis

  • 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. Try using 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 will stop them telling 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 really 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 has the power to have serious negative 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

Further Support

Make sure to teach children and young people how to block and report users. You can find instructions on how to do this for all major social media platforms at Our Safety Centre. 

For more information on cyberbullying, you can check out the NSPCC.

The UK Government’s Department of Education has also published useful advice on cyberbullying which you can access here.  

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