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How to beat a cyberbully
Become a CyberMentor with Beatbullying
and Safer Internet Day 2011.
Tuesday 8 February marks Safer Internet Day 2011 and bullying prevention charity Beatbullying are issuing a rally call to the youth of the UK to help them stamp out cyberbullying.
What is cyberbullying?
Unfortunately, bullying is nothing new. But for young people growing up in a digital world, cyberbullying is on the rise.
Cyberbullying is when someone uses digital means like the internet (say, email or social networking sites) or a mobile phone to deliberately harass, threaten or humiliate someone else.
Cyberbullying allows the perpetrator to harass their victim even when they're not in the same physical space. While someone might escape normal bullying by walking away, cyberbullying allows the bully to hound their victim wherever they go.
Nathan Goddard took his own life
after being bullied on Facebook.
It is a sad reality that if left unchecked this form of mental abuse can result in tragedy.
The past twelve months played host to the untimely death of 16-year-old Nathan Goddard, after bullies used Facebook to threaten him against seeing a girl from school.
Nathan took his own life and was found strangled, hanging from a tree.
Stop this from happening: become a CyberMentor
What does a cyberbully do?
Cyberbullies are cowardly creatures and hide behind their computers to inflict misery on others. Their bullying tactics include (but are not limited to):
- Sending nasty or threatening texts or emails
- Posting abusive messages online - on a social networking site, in a chat room, or using instant messaging (eg. Windows Live Messenger)
- Posting humiliating videos or pictures online, or sending them to other people
- Assuming someone else's identity online in order to upset them
- Setting up a hate site or a hate group on a social network site
- Prank calling, prank texts and messages
What is being done?
Beatbullying aims to get to the very heart of the cyberbullying scourge through its peer mentoring site www.cybermentors.org.uk.
The site trains thousands of CyberMentors who in-turn provide vital support to those children who find themselves bullied, abused and harassed. All young people, aged 11-25, can be trained as CyberMentors, in schools and online, so that they can in-turn offer support to their peers.
With this approach, the charity hopes to discourage kids from going along with cyberbullying or becoming bullies themselves, as well as helping the victims. To date the cyberbullying website has had in excess of one million visits and by raising awareness we can encourage more to join the cause.
What can kids do?
Visit CyberMentors.org.uk. There is always someone available to provide advice and help. There are even fully trained, accredited counsellors at hand to deal with more serious issues.
If you're being bullied, the most important thing is to talk to someone.
As well as friends, parents or carers, there are loads of people who can help, such as ChildLine on 0800 1111, a teacher or other trusted adult.
- Don't retaliate or reply in anger - bullies are looking for a reaction and will soon get bored if they don't get what they want.
- Block the bully's texts, messages and emails using the settings on your phone, social networking profile and email account.
- Adjust social networking privacy settings to high and keep them there.
- Keep the evidence - learn how to keep records of offending messages, pictures or online conversations.
- Protect your online accounts and keep passwords to yourself. Only give your mobile number to trusted friends.
What can parents do?
- Talk to your children and understand the ways in which they are using the internet and their mobile phone. Make sure they know how to use this technology safely and responsibly.
- Be aware that your child is as likely to be an unwitting accessory to cyberbullying as the actual target - by forwarding on emails, videos and images.
If you suspect that your child, or another child in your care, is being bullied:
- Assure them they are not to blame and remind them not to retaliate.
- Help them use the safety features on their phone, email account and on websites to block upsetting messages.
- Ensure that privacy settings are set to high to stop unwanted contact.
- Tell them to keep evidence of offending emails, text messages or online conversations.
- Contact the child's school if the cyberbullying involves another pupil so they can take appropriate action.
- If the cyberbullying is serious and a criminal offence may have been committed, consider contacting the police.
- Contact ParentLine Plus on 0808 800 2222 if you want to talk to someone about it.
How can Safer Internet Day help?
Will Gardner - CEO of Childnet, on why Safer Internet Day is important:
"Safer Internet Day is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness about using new technology safely and responsibly. This year we are raising the issue of online games. Online gaming is hugely popular with children and young people. Research shows that gaming is even more popular than social networking. Even though gaming is fun and encourages teamwork, it can also have risks such as privacy invasion and exposure to inappropriate material".
Various Safer Internet Day activities are being organised throughout the UK. You can help fundraise by buying CyberMentor Sillybandz or holding a special event to raise money. You could sell cakes, or even get people to sponsor you doing something fun!
If your child is at school why not invite organizations like CyberMentors to come to your school to hold an anti-bullying workshop?
For more information on any of these activities please visit www.cybermentors.org.uk.