Trusting the care and growth of your child to a boarding school staff can be hard and particularly when you hear of growing concerns around such things as cyber bullying in school. You might ask, what can my boarding school and I do to help protect my child? This article will explore what cyber bullying looks like and things you or your school might do to prevent it.
Bullying has been an issue that parents, teachers and schools alike have been struggling with for generations. However, in recent years with the rise of technology among the very young, cyber bullying has become a lot more prominent. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, over 80% of teens now use a cell phone regularly (where much of this bullying occurs) and bullying online is seen across gender lines.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines cyber bullying as “the use of information technology to bully a person by sending or posting text or images of an intimidating or threatening nature.” And this happens to way too many kids.
According to statistics provided by a study conducted by the i-SAFE Foundation, over half of adolescence have been bullied online and a similar number have engaged in cyber bullying themselves. In addition, 1 in 3 young people have received threats online and more than half of kids do not tell their parents when it is happening.
There are now innumerable ways in which cyber bullying can manifest itself. Actions of a cyber bully have the potential of going viral and causing even more damage. Bullies can also hide behind fake names and emails online which can often make them bolder. Bullying can take place on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, blogs, over email, through chat rooms, or a combination of these platforms and more. Sometimes it is through private messages but often cyber bullying happens in a very public arena.
Cyber bullying has many forms. Photo credit (Sophie Thorne of Fixers cyber bullying programme): The Home of the Fixers
One of the biggest challenges in combatting cyber bullying is deciding where the responsibility lies in teaching young people about the appropriate use of technology. Educating students about appropriate online activities and behaviors is key and making sure you or your school is providing this guidance early on is incredibly important.
So what can we do about bullying?
Prevention is key and should not be underestimated. Creating a conversation around what to do and how to address concerns when they arise should be the priority of a school and a parent. Educate your children around appropriate behavior and what to do if they see cyber bullying happening.
Immediate tips on how to deal with a cyber bullying at boarding school incident when you become aware of one includes encouraging students not to retaliate. Often the cycle of bullying is fed by the victims of bullying becoming bullies themselves, sometimes out of a need to protect themselves. Be sure to steer students away from this revenge tactic.
One benefit, if you can call it that, of cyber bullying is that you can save the evidence because it is all on a device of some sort, whether it be a phone or computer. If your child or student is being bullied, be sure to encourage them to take screen shots or copy emails and messages.
Using reporting tools at a school and teaching students how to reach out is exceptionally important. With such high rates of kids not disclosing bullying to adults, this is one of the areas that parents and schools need to work on the most. When systems of reporting and support are clearly established, bullying can be stopped before it escalates or goes viral.
Brillantmont works hard to support our students and prevent cyber bullying. Look out for an upcoming blog about our work that will include some advice from the school.
Additional Cyber Bullying Resources:
The EU started a cyber bullying awareness campaign called #DeleteCyberbullying which has gained traction across the continent
Banner photo credit: Guian Bolisay