Cyberbullying: A Community-Wide Response
Home and School together
Cyberbullying goes beyond the school environment. The efforts to defeat it cannot therefore be confined to the schools; they must also go on in the wider community, especially in the home.
The messages and the responses coming from home and school must be consistent. By working together, home and school can create awareness of the issues and provide clear channels for reporting bullying. They can help to reduce the risks by providing an open culture where bullying can be freely reported and discussed. It is important to create a positive, supportive atmosphere around the topic.
All schools and youth groups should have an Anti-Bullying Policy. Everyone in the school or group should be involved in the development of the policy; the policy should be rigorously implemented and reviewed regularly.
An Anti-Bullying Policy can be effective in sending a clear message about bullying by setting down:
- How seriously the school or club treats cyberbullying
- What the organisation is doing to prevent bullying behaviour
- What students can do
- What parents can do
- What teachers and other school staff can do
- Who to contact in the event of a problem
- How incidents are handled
Steps you can take at home to prevent cyberbullying
Get Involved in your Child’s Online Life
Let your child know that you are there to listen and to help them should they be a victim of cyberbullying in any way. The single biggest thing you as a parent can do to keep your child safe online is to engage with what they do. Parents should therefore use their parenting skills to help their children to stay safe in their online lives.
Get to know your child’s internet and phone use
All parents should understand how children use these technologies. Encourage openness. Don’t be afraid to ask your children about their activity online. Ask him or her to show you which websites they like visiting and what they do there; do this only if you feel it’s necessary and helpful to the child.
Acquiring knowledge of how children use these technologies can make it easier to make the right decisions with your child on their internet and mobile phone use.
Register as a contact on your child’s phone
Mobile operators in Ireland provide a ‘Dual Access’ service. This service allows both parent and child to have access to the account records held by the mobile phone company including; account balances, numbers called and the services available on the mobile phone. Access to certain services such as the internet can be barred or restricted on your child’s handset. Contact your mobile phone provider to request further information.
Encourage Respect for others
As in everyday life, there are informal ethical rules for how to behave when relating to other people on the internet. Talk to your child about the harm that can be caused by cyberbullying and ensure that they understand what the consequences might be for everyone involved, including the bully.
How “bystanders” can help
Bystanders who become aware of the cyberbullying of others but who are not directly involved can assist the victim. In this context “bystanders” can include team mates, work colleagues, auxiliary staff in schools (Special Needs Assistants (SNAs), wardens, school bus driver, etc). They can:-
- help individuals to report cases to appropriate adults, e.g. teachers, but they must not encourage the victim in any way to, in turn, bully the bully
- share knowledge about, for example, how to take screenshots and configure privacy settings
- encourage people to ‘leave’, ‘unfollow’ and ‘unlike’ bullying
- make a difference.
The bystander must never exceed their role, they must never become part of the problem.
This article was taken from the ‘Get with it!’ Series “A guide to cyberbullying” 2013. Produced by The Office for Internet Safety, Department of Justice and Equality. You can get further information on general internet safety issues by visiting www.internetsafety.ie
To access the full booklet click here
This booklet is intended to increase awareness of all aspects of cyberbullying in the new media world and to help parents and their children understand the often confusing issues of new media technologies and tools which children and young people are using for this behaviour.