Anastasia de Waal from the Bullying UK responds to: Anti-Bullying Alliance: New survey finds parents and teachers struggle to keep kids safe online

“To address the problem of bullying and to encourage greater parental involvement; BullyingUK, part of the charity Family Lives, works online and within schools to support children, pupils, parents and professionals to identify and prevent bullying to improve the emotional well-being of children to encourage them to achieve their potential.  Vulnerable children can become so consumed by negative online comments towards them, it is crucial that a sense of perspective and proportion is injected via a role model to avoid issues spiralling out of control.  Bullying is a real concern to the families of bullied children who often find the situation traumatic and difficult to manage.  Other families, however may be experiencing the reverse: what to do if their child is the bully? Whilst the focus is rightly on ‘victims’, BullyingUK believe working with the families of bullies is a preventative measure and parents and professionals must also engage with children who bully and their parents. 

Parents and other family members must familiarise themselves with ever evolving computer and mobile technology. For example, spending time with children looking at functions, exploring how to block unwanted or uninvited contact.  It’s important to continue to increase this knowledge as children grow older and migrate from PCs to laptops to handheld devices. At BullyingUK we encourage parents to talk to their children about how, when and why they use their mobile phone or internet. If they seem distressed after a phone call or time spent on the internet, try and find out the reasons for this. 

The online world offers a wealth of opportunities to learn, communicate and explore. However, the internet is like the outside world where children can meet different people and may be exposed to risk.  Children actively participate in the digital world; the majority have social media accounts and communicate daily online via smart phones.  Cyberbullying, like all bullying, can have a devastating impact on a child’s confidence, happiness and self-esteem. These effects can be long lasting and may have a negative impact on a child’s performance at school.  Sometimes, children are bullied online by people they have met face-to-face, or even friends. Bullies may use online technology as it’s more difficult to recognise senders. Others may take part perhaps by forwarding videos and emails to others. For all people involved, it may get out of hand very quickly because it is not easy to identify who is responsible and children may find themselves caught up in the cyber mob mentality.

We want to encourage young people to get involved in our anti-bullying ‘Spot It & Stop It’ campaign to ensure that existing and future generations do not experience bullying which can affect both academic achievement and emotional wellbeing.”

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