Cyber bullying can be as terrible as bullying in schools. Although it may not be physical since it is online, the psychological damage can be very heavy to a child’s well-being.
Do you know of anyone’s child who is experiencing cyber bullying? Chances are you won’t be aware of this until it gets really serious and the child’s behavior changes for all to see.
So how can you help protect your child or children?
Here are some pointers to get you started:
Realize that cyber bullying is a real occurrence that is faced by children in Malaysia.
Yes, it is happening. And the pressure and mental stress on the victims are real. Actually, it is happening all over the world, so it’s not only in this country. The faster we accept the fact that this is happening, the faster we can start doing something about this online bullying.
Talk to your child or children about cyber bullies.
Explain to your child what is cyber bullying. Let them know that it is not OK and they should not accept it as “normal” online behavior. Explain to them that even on the internet, the basic good manners and behavior still holds.
Steps to take if you find out your child is a cyber bullying victim
Assure your child that you are there to support and protect him or her. Make it clear that it is not his or her fault. It is important that children are not made to feel responsible for being a victim. And whatever you do, don’t accuse them of causing it.
Find out the details of the bullying. If the bully is from a classmate or school mate, you can talk to their teachers for help. If necessary, the teachers or school principal can bring in the bully’s parents to resolve the issue.
If it is someone your children met online, who they have never personally met before, then help your kids to block the bully from their social media and other accounts. Teach your kids not to befriend strangers and give them personal details as this can lead to more serious problems.
If the bullying happens on chat rooms or comments section of web pages, encourage your children to ignore the commenters (also called Trolls). Explain to them the nature of online discussions and how to avoid falling into heated arguments.
You can also contact agencies like Cyber Security Malaysia or the Welfare Department to ask for advice. Such agencies may be able to provide expertise, advise and support to help stem the cyber bullying of your children.
Conversely, teach your child proper netiquette (acceptable online behavior). It is important for children to realize what is cyber bullying so that they don’t unintentionally do the same to others. Sometimes it takes just one extra step to turn “just having fun” to “mean-spirited bullying”.