South African National Cybersecurity Awareness Portal

Qaphela Online

Cyberbullying

The following information on Cyberbullying was extracted from the Cyber Bullying Statistics, HelpGuide and other relevant sources.

Cyberbullying is the most prevalent form of online threat affecting children and is the deliberate use of digital media to communicate false, embarrassing, or hostile information about, or to another person. Cyberbullying is a form of teen violence that can do lasting harm to young people and is a serious problem among teens. By being more aware of cyberbullying, teens and adults can help to fight it.

Cyberbullying affects many adolescents and teens on a daily basis. Cyberbullying involves using technology, like cell phones and the Internet, to bully or harass another person. Many South African children are reluctant to report to adults when they are being bullied online. However, if you know or suspect your child is the victim of cyberbullying, there are steps you can take to stop it. 

Signs for cyberbullying can be one or many of the following:

  • Being upset or unusually quiet following use of the phone or Internet;
  • Emotional withdrawal;
  • Being secretive or protective of a device;
  • Sudden disinterest in social activities or sport;
  • Reluctance to go to school;
  • Slipping in grades or lack of focus on study;
  • Changes in mood, behaviour, sleep or appetite;
  • An increased susceptibility to illness; this could be real or used as an excuse to avoid the source of the bullying;
  • Sudden withdrawal and dislike of social media;
  • Nervous behaviour when getting an instant message, text or email;
  • Avoiding discussions on bullying.

Examples of Cyberbullying include:

  • mean text messages.
  • harsh emails.
  • starting or spreading rumours about someone online.
  • posting or sharing embarrassing pictures or videos of someone
  • without their permission.
  • setting up fake profiles and posing as someone else.
  • creating cruel websites as an attack on someone.

Protect kids and your loved ones from cyberbullying:

  • Limit where your children post personal information and monitor their online activities.
  • Avoid escalating the situation such as responding with anger is likely to provoke a bully.
  • Document everything related to the cyberbullying incident.
  • Report cyberbullying to the nearest police station.

Tips for kids or teens dealing with cyberbullying:

  • If you are targeted by cyberbullies, it's important not to respond to any messages or posts written about you, no matter how hurtful or untrue. Responding will only make the situation worse and provoking a reaction from you is exactly what the cyberbullies want, so don't give them the satisfaction.
  • It's also very important that you don't seek revenge on a cyberbully by becoming a cyberbully yourself. Again, it will only make the problem worse and could result in serious legal consequences for you. If you wouldn't say it in person, don't say it online.

Instead, respond to cyberbullying by: 

  • Saving the evidence of the cyberbullying, keep abusive text messages or a screenshot of a webpage, for example, and then report them to a trusted adult, such as a family member, teacher, or school counsellor. If you don't report incidents, the cyberbully will often become more aggressive.
  • Reporting threats of harm and inappropriate sexual messages to the police. In many cases, the cyberbully's actions can be prosecuted by law.
  • Being relentless. Cyberbullying is rarely limited to one or two incidents. It's far more likely to be a sustained attack on you over a period of time. So, like the cyberbully, you may have to be relentless and keep reporting each and every bullying incident until it stops. There is no reason for you to ever put up with cyberbullying.
  • Preventing communication from the cyberbully, by blocking their email address, cell phone number, and deleting them from social media contacts. Report their activities to their Internet service provider (ISP) or to any social media or other websites they use to target you. The cyberbully’s actions may constitute a violation of the website’s terms of service or, depending on the laws in your area, may even warrant criminal charges.

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