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 children and young people. 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, this form of bullying does not stop at the school gates.

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 increase as a result of extended lockdown restrictions.

What You Need to Know

  • In Ditch the label’s Annual Bullying Survey (2020) 25% of young people have been bullied in the past 12 months, and 26% of young people had witnessed bullying

  • 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. You can use 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 may stop them from 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 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 can have serious adverse 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

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