Marking its 20th Anniversary this year, Safer Internet Day returned on 7 February once again to raise awareness on emerging online issues and current concerns, as well as promote online safety.
“Technology should not be misused as a tool to hurt and create conflicts. When we encounter cyberbullying messages, we should delete them if we can and more importantly, don’t forward them. Together, we can enable our children to feel safe in the online world,” said Ms Leela Narayana, Senior Social Worker from the Bully-Free team at Singapore Children’s Society.
With the Internet and social media having become a part of our everyday life, bullying has moved into the virtual space. If it is not handled properly, cyberbullying can have an adverse effect on victims, especially impressionable children and youth.
To prevent cyberbullying, parents are encouraged to be aware of what and who their children are engaged with online. This is important as children may not realise they have fallen victim to cyberbullying. Or, they may be embarrassed or ashamed to initiate a conversation with an adult when he or she recognises the victimisation. And when a child does tell, a calm and non-judgemental demeanour will encourage the child to speak up so that help can be given promptly.
Our Bully-Free team also advises parents to keep a lookout for word searches that raise a red flag and websites frequented by your child. Do note the time the child is logging onto the Internet. If your child is waking up in the middle of the night to log in to their social media accounts or chat apps, parents should check for signs of online harassment.
In the event your child is being bullied, teach your child to:
- Stop responding to the cyberbully and log off the communication device.
– Explain to your child that cyberbullies often want to get a reaction from their victims. When your child decides not to respond or retaliate, the bullies are unable to achieve their objective and may stop bullying your child.
- Block the cyberbully by activating the app’s block function, if applicable.
– Parents may also find it helpful to teach their child to delete the messages from the bullies without reading them.
- Save the bullying message(s).
– Assist your child to keep a copy of the bullying episode(s) as evidence because these documentations can be submitted to the schools or enforcement authorities to make the bullies stop their wrongful behaviour.
- Tell a trusted adult.
– Advise your child to report the matter to a trusted adult, someone who they know will listen and believe them.
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