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Signs to look out for to actively identify and prevent cyber bullyingCyber bullying has become an epidemic in our technological driven society, with access to the internet being so readily available. With increased access come greater concerns for parents, teachers and school counsellors as new technologies introduce new avenues for bullying.

Cyber bullying - defined as the use of technologies to harass or cause hurt to another person which may include stalking, harassment, exclusion, impersonating another or dissemination of humiliating or threatening messages or images - can be difficult to identify as signs are not always obvious to parents, teachers, or peers. It is therefore imperative that as a community we know how to identify and prevent cyber bullying.

We recommend that you watch for the following signs as they may be indicators of cyber bullying:

  • Withdrawal from technology: Noticeable decline in phone or computer usage.
  • Emotional behaviour: Easily becoming withdrawn or shy, moody or agitated, anxious or overly stressed.
  • Social behaviour: Change in eating or sleeping habits, nightmares at night, no longer wanting to participate in activities that were once enjoyed, changing friends, harms self, attempting or threatening suicide.
  • Academic behaviour: Doesn’t want to go from school, gets into trouble at school, loses interest in school and grades drop.

If you are concerned that your son or daughter might be bullying others, keep an eye on their behaviour around the computer. If they stop using the computer or turn off the screen when someone comes near, appear nervous or agitated while on the computer or phone and are secretive about what they are doing on the computer, then you might need to delve deeper.

There are many different actions that can be taken at home to prevent cyber bullying. The top 3 actions that we recommend are:

  1. Establish firm rules about online use
  2. Set clear limits
  3. Talk about possible negative consequences in advance

The internet can be a positive influence by providing a social tool for young people to connect and also access to a wealth of information. We – as parents, guardians and educators – need to pay attention, assess, speak, and listen openly about online behaviours.

If you suspect your child or child’s peer is a victim of bullying or a bully, please refer and raise your concerns with your child’s teacher or the School Psychologist.

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