Children and teens have been bullying each other for decades, possibly for centuries. There is always a kid who feels that he or she is superior to others and chooses to pick on the weaker or different child. In the past, bullying was restricted to the playground at school, in the classroom, or at the local park. With the technology that we have today, bullying has taken on a new and potentially more dangerous form — cyberbullying. Learn more on Cyberbullying in New Zealand Now!
Cyberbullying is a way for children to pick on other children over the Internet or through text messaging. While bullying can be very traumatic for a kid, cyberbullying is just as traumatic. When a child is being bullied in the traditional way, chances are that a parent, teacher, or another student will see what is happening and take steps to stop it. When a kid is being cyberbullied, it is not as likely that an adult will see what is happening and be able to step in. Most of the cyberbullying that happens is seen only by the victim and other children.
In New Zealand, 4 out of every 10 children/teens are bullied, while 1 in every 10 children/teens are victims of cyberbullying in New Zealand. The cyberbullying statistics in New Zealand should frighten parents and educators for several reasons.
- Children and teens who are victims of cyberbullying are three times as likely to become depressed. This depression can stay with them through adulthood.
- Children who are cyberbullied often at a young age are likely to have psychotic symptoms as they get older.
- Children and teens who are victims of cyberbullying are nine times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than those who have never been cyberbullied.
- Bullying and cyberbullying is the fourth most common reason that children seek counseling services and mental health services.
- When a child or teen is the one responsible for bullying or cyberbullying, he or she has a one in four chance of having a criminal record by the time he or she turns 30 years old.
- Girls are more likely to be victims of cyberbullying than boys. Girls who are victims of cyberbullying during primary school are likely to continue to be victims as they get older.
- In severe cases of cyberbullying, children and teens have been known to consider and attempt suicide. Unfortunately, there are times when these suicide attempts are successful.
How Cyberbullies Attack
Cyberbullies use technology and the Web to attack their victims. With the invention of social networking, bullies found a new platform for their antagonistic behaviors. Children and teens use sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Instagram to torment and ridicule their victims. Cyberbullies post mean and embarrassing things on their victims’ Facebook wall for all to see. They will also use their status updates on these sites to call out their victims and humiliate them. Cyberbullying is not only done on social networking websites. Cyberbullies also take to email, instant messaging, and text messaging to hurt their victims and to wear them down. Because it only takes a computer or cellphone for cyberbullies to go after their victims, it is easy for them to continue the torment on a daily basis.
How Cyberbullies Choose Their Victims
Most cyberbullies feel inferior in some way, therefore, they project this inferiority on others who they feel may be weaker than them. There are several ways that cyberbullies choose their victims.
- Cyberbullies will go after someone who they feel is different from the other kids. They may choose someone who looks different, dresses different, has different interests or acts in a peculiar way.
- Cyberbullies often choose their victims by their appearance. They tend to seek out overweight children, children who are short for their age, or children with developmental disabilities.
- Cyberbullies will prey on children who are smaller and younger than themselves, therefore making it less likely that these children will try to stick up for themselves.
- Cyberbullies will seek out children who they can get a reaction out of quickly. For example, a child who is prone to crying or getting upset easily is the perfect target for a cyberbully.
- Girls may begin to cyberbully another girl who they are jealous of. The girl may be prettier than her bully or may like the same boy as her bully. Jealousy is a huge reason that cyberbullying occurs among teenage girls.
Warning Signs That Your Child Is a Victim of Cyberbullying
There are several warning signs that your child or teen may be a victim to cyberbullying. The faster parents pick up on these signs, the sooner they can do something to help before the problem gets out of control.
- If your child or teen has become withdrawn and does not want to discuss how their day was, this is a sign that something is going on in their daily life.
- If you notice that your child has stopped using the computer or becomes upset and anxious after using the computer, chances are they are being cyberbullied and have just seen something online that has upset them.
- If your child typically enjoys going to school and is suddenly trying to find reasons to stay home, there is a problem.
- If your child does not spend time with friends who they used to be with all the time, chances are there is something going on within their circle of friends, and cyberbullying can be part of it.
- If your child is acting out, bullying or cyberbullying can be the reason.
How to Help Stop Cyberbullying
Once you are sure that your child or teen is a victim of cyberbullying, it is up to you to help your child get through it as well as stop it altogether.
- When you discover that your child is a victim of cyberbullying, listen to him or her without being judgmental.
- Offer your child your empathy and your support. Do not dismiss his or her feelings.
- While you may be angry and sad about what is happening to your child, it is important to not let them see these feelings. It is important to be a constant force of strength for your child so that he or she can lean on you.
- Resist the urge to lash out at the cyberbully or their parents. Go through the proper channels calmly to rectify the problems.
- Research the school’s policy on cyberbullying in New Zealand. This will help you to determine your course of action.
- Do not take away your child’s cellphone or computer privileges. While you may be trying to protect your child, he or she may perceive it as a punishment and feel as though they did something wrong.
- Make sure that your child understands that he or she is not to blame and make sure your child understands that cyberbullies have their own issues that cause them to do these things in the first place.
How to Prevent Cyberbullying
It is difficult to prevent cyberbullying without violating your child’s privacy. Because cyberbullying is such a serious problem, parents need to take whatever steps necessary to make sure that their children are not victims of cyberbullying or doing the cyberbullying themselves.
- Having the passwords to your child’s social networking accounts, email accounts, and instant message accounts is important. Parents should use these passwords to check on what their children are doing and saying online.
- Make your child understand what cyberbullying is and how seriously it can affect someone.
- Let your child know that there are very strict cyberbullying laws that can protect victims and punish their tormentors.
School Policies on Cyberbullying
The school policies on cyberbullying in New Zealand are very clear. There is a zero tolerance policy on cyberbullying. When a student is caught bullying another student, the school department will immediately intervene and rectify the situation. The bully will immediately be punished, and counseling services will be offered to the victims. New Zealand school departments take all forms of bullying seriously and are quick to take action.
Cyberbullying has become an increasingly larger issue in schools today. It is up to the parents and the schools to educate students so that victims can speak up and get the help that they need. Children also need to be educated so that they do not become the ones doing the bullying.