You may be unsure if your child is being bullied. If you suspect that this may be happening, look out for the following signs. You may see one or more signs.
Your child may:
- show signs of stress - being moody, silent or crying, or bullying a younger sibling or friend
- make excuses to miss school - such as stomach complaints or headaches (or your child may be skipping school altogether)
- seem upset after using the internet or mobile
- change their behaviour – for example, no longer wanting to look at new text messages immediately, or being secretive and unwilling to talk about their online activities and phone use
- be withdrawn in their behaviour
- have more bruises or scrapes than usual
- change their eating habits
- have torn clothes, school things that are broken or missing, or have 'lost' money
- sleep badly
There could be other reasons for these signs, so you need to ask yourself:
- could there be anything else bothering your child?
- could there be changes in your family life like a new baby, or divorce or separation that may be affecting your child's behaviour?
Your child can find out who to contact for support in the Bullying section of Teenwirral.
Getting help with bullying
For support and advice, you can contact the following organisations:
Immediate support and advice for parents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
T: 0808 800 2222
A telephone helpline for parents and carers of bullied children.
T: 08451 205 204
Advisory Centre for Education
Advice for parents and children on all school matters including exclusion, admissions, special education needs, bullying and attendance.
T: 0808 800 5793
Children's Legal Centre
Free legal advice on all aspects of the law affecting children and young people.
Online and cyber bullying
Cyberbullying is when technology is used to hurt, harass or abuse others, and can include using laptops, PCs, gaming consoles and mobile phones.
These days with so many children and young people using social networking sites and mobile phones, it’s more important than ever that those closest to them are able to help and support them. They also need to make sure they learn how to use this technology safely and responsibly, as their behaviours are still forming.
Helping your child stay safe online
Some links to support you to help your child safely use the technology they want to.
- parental controls for mobile phones
- young people and social networking sites
- music, film, TV and the Internet
Connect Safely has a Parents' Guide to Facebook which is designed to help parents understand what Facebook is and how it can be used safely. It also has a useful Facebook privacy chart that can help teens decide what to share on Facebook.
Preventing cyber bullying:
- Agree on family rules and procedures about what to do if someone is being bullied online, such as saving the message or text as evidence and telling a trusted adult.
- With your children, explore the online technologies and websites they like to use.
- Become your child's 'friend' on Facebook or MSN. Have your child show you, or learn together, how to block someone on a chat service like MSN or how to report abuse to a website or service provider.
- Encourage positive use of technology by helping your child to use it to support learning, socialise with peers and explore the wider world. Discuss and promote 'netiquette' – responsible online behaviour – and reward your child for this.
Tell them that ‘netiquette’ means:
- respecting others online – treating them how you would want to be treated
- only posting or writing things online and in text messages that you'd be happy for anyone to see
- using appropriate language when chatting or playing games online
- paying close attention to a website's terms and conditions and making sure you're old enough to be using a site or online service.
Support your child in making responsible decisions on the Internet and when using a mobile phone. Make sure they are aware of the types of photos and other content that are appropriate to post online (e.g. no photos in a school blazer or sports uniform). It's also worth remembering that online personalities will be viewable by all potential higher education colleges and universities and so professional careers can be affected by online behaviour.
Three helpful points:
- Be aware that as well as being at risk, your child could also be involved in cyberbullying.
- Be alert to changes in your child's behaviour – especially after using the internet or their mobile phone. Discuss the emotional impact of bullying on another person.
- Encourage your children to keep passwords safe. Treat your password like your toothbrush – don't share it with anyone!
Responding to cyber bullying
When a child is the target of cyberbullying, they can feel alone and misunderstood. It is therefore vital that, as a parent or carer, you know how to support your child if they are caught up in cyberbullying.
Support and encourage your child if they tell you they've been cyberbullied – reassure them that it's not their fault and that they've made the right choice by reporting it to you. Tell them that bullying is not acceptable and inform them of what you will do next by following the tips below.
- Make sure your child does not retaliate or reply to cyberbullying messages of any kind.
- Help your child to save evidence of cyberbullying. Use online tools or the 'print screen' button on your computer and don't delete text messages on a mobile phone.
- If you need to, you can help your child to change their contact details (email, online username, mobile phone number) to prevent further bullying. Denying them access to the technologies is not the answer.
- Use the security tools on your family's computer, on websites or on your child's mobile phone.
- Tell them about the ThinkuKnow website which provides help and advice for young people on cyberbullying and staying safe online.
- Report cyberbullying. You can report the incident to your child's school, the website or service provider, and, in serious cases, the police. Find more information at the The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).
Source: Anti-Bullying Alliance
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is dedicated to eradicating the sexual abuse of children. CEOP also provides help and advice on cyberbullying and maintains a website for children and young people about staying safe online. You can find out more by visiting their Thinkyouknow website or the CEOP advice and help centre.
The Anti-Bullying Alliance is committed to stopping bullying in all its forms and who work with a number of organisations to try and bring hope to the thousands of children and young people affected by bullying every year.