Cyber-bullying is when a person or group of people use modern technology, such as the internet, mobile phones or other digital technologies to deliberately cause upset to someone by threatening, harassing, abusing or teasing them.
Bullying can happen to anyone, at any time, at any age. No-one has the right to hurt another person or make them feel upset. Harassment and threatening behaviour are against the law. This law would also cover cyber-bullying.
What to do if your child is the victim of cyber-bullying
Encourage your child to talk to you about what has been happening. Explain that you can help them to sort it out.
You should advise your child:-
- Not to reply to any messages they receive, as this may encourage the bullies. Advise them not to retaliate.
- Not to answer calls from withheld numbers or from numbers they do not recognise
- Keep a copy of the abusive emails, texts or messages that they receive and when these were sent.
- Never to give out any personal details on the internet such as their real name, address, age or phone number. Even telling someone which school they attend can help that person find out information about them.
- Change their online nicknames or user ID to something different.
- Consider changing their mobile number and to only give the new number to close friends
- Block any offending user where possible from websites.
- Contact the service provider or host (i.e. the chatroom, the social network provider, or mobile operator) to inform them of what has happened, and get their advice on how to stop this happening again. The service provider may be able to block particular senders or callers (for landlines), or advise on how to change contact details, and potentially delete the accounts of those that are abusing the service. See below for further details.
- Discourage use of the internet in private spaces where adults are not present to monitor what is going on.
- Ensure your child does not set up social networking IDs with inappropriate personal pictures, ages and/or descriptions.
- Report the abuse through the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) website
- Report the matter to the school and/or to the police depending on the circumstances (see below for guidance)
Checking your child's involvement
Although it may be uncomfortable to accept, you should be aware that sometimes children get caught up in cyber-bullying simply by not thinking about the consequences of what they are doing. You may find that your child has been involved in cyber-bullying others. It is,therefore, important that you talk with your children and understand the ways in which they are using the internet and their mobile phone. The internet is a ‘faceless’ area where people sometimes say or write things that they would not in face-to-face conversations. They need to understand that the consequences of what they say or write online or by text are just as serious as those that they say directly to a person.
How can the school help?
Dealing with cyber bullying:
If cyber-bullying takes place in school, this will be dealt with in the same way as any other form of bullying in line with the school’s Anti-Bullying Policy. Bullying is not acceptable. Responses could include: the confiscation of a mobile phone or other relevant technology; exclusion from social time; other sanctions including exclusion from the school.
If cyber-bullying is happening outside school eg texts, calls, or social networking communication, then it would still be helpful for the school to be aware. We would, if those involved are known/suspected, contact the parents of other children and let them know what has been alleged. We would also explain that cyber-bullying is a form of harassment and thus a matter that can be passed to the police. The police would be the correct contact for concerns of ongoing harassment when children are out of school and in the care of their parents.
This is a matter which the school takes very seriously and thus we educate students about the damaging effects of this type of behaviour. Bullying and cyber-bullying are covered in LIFE (PSHE), English and Drama lessons and is a subject for assemblies and circle time during the year.
What can I do to block nuisance calls, messages etc?
o All UK Mobile operators have nuisance call centres set up and/or procedures in place to deal with such instances so you may wish to contact them directly (see below for contact details)
o It is normally possible to block / ignore particular users on social networking sites, which should mean the user can stop receiving unwanted comments. Users can do this from within the site. Many social network providers also enable users to pre-moderate any comments left on their profile before they are visible by others. This can help a user prevent unwanted or hurtful comments appearing on their profile for all to see. The user can also set their profile to ‘Private’, so that only those authorised by the user are able to access and see their profile.
o It is possible to block users, or change Instant Messenger IDs so the bully is not able to contact their target any more. Most providers will have information on their website about how to do this. In addition, the Instant Messenger provider can investigate and shut down any accounts that have been misused and clearly break their terms of service. The best evidence for the service provider is archived or recorded conversations, and many IM providers allow the user to record all messages.
o It is possible to block particular email senders or the person being bullied can change their email address. The email provider will have information on their website about how to create a new account.
o It is possible to get content taken down from video-hosting sites, though the content will need to be illegal or have broken the terms of service of the site in other ways. On YouTube, perhaps the most well-known of such sites, it is possible to report content to the site provider as inappropriate. In order to do this, you will need to create an account (this is free) and log in, and then you will have the option to ‘flag content as inappropriate’. The option to flag the content is under the video content itself.
o “Block’em” is an app for certain mobile phones which can be set up to block unwanted calls or texts The caller/texter doesn’t know that they’ve been blocked. It is available from www.blockem.co.uk, priced £1.79, with 70 per cent of profits going to the NSPCC.
NB photo images:
If images are involved in the cyber-bullying, it is important to ascertain if these might be illegal or raise child protection concerns. Indecent or sexual images of children (defined as people under the age of 18) are illegal to produce, circulate or possess in the UK. These include images that children have taken of themselves or their friends, using their mobile phone or other devices.
• Internet Watch Foundation, if the images are internet content (see www.iwf.org.uk).
• The local police, if illegal images have been taken of a child and circulated.
Similarly if there is a recording of a crime, e.g. assault on another child, contact the local police.
Contacts for mobile phone companies
• O2: email@example.com or 08705214000
• Vodafone: 191 from a Vodafone phone or 08700700191 (pay monthly) & 08700776655 (pay as you go)
• 3: call 333 from a 3 phone or 0870733033
• Orange: Call 450 on an Orange phone or 07973100450
• T-Mobile: Call 150 on a T-mobile phone or 08454125000
• Childline – free 24 hour helpline for children and young people. Tel: 0800 1111.
• Kidscape – run a telephone advice line exclusively for parents and carers giving advice
about bullying. Tel: 08451 205 204 (10am-4pm weekdays).
• Get Connected – free confidential helpline for young people (open 1pm-11pm every day).
Tel: 0808 8084994.
• Samaritans – helpline for those in distress, offering multi-channel support.
Tel: 08457 90 90 90. Email: Jo@samaritans.org. SMS text: 07725 909090.
• Childnet – a range of resources for primary and secondary schools, for children and young
people, for teachers and for parents (www.childnet-int.org).
• StopText bully – a website dedicated to mobile phone bullying, contains advice for young
people including how to contact your operator (www.stoptextbully.com).
• Cyberbullying.org – one of the first websites set up in this area, for young people, providing advice around preventing and taking action against cyber bullying. A Canadian-based site (www.cyberbullying.org).
• Chatdanger – a website that informs about the potential dangers online (including bullying), and advice on how to stay safe while chatting (www.chatdanger.com).
• Anti-Bullying Alliance – the Alliance brings together over 60 organisations into one network with the aim of reducing bullying. Their website has a parents section with links to recommended organisations who can help with bullying issues (www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk).