Post provided by quib.ly

A survey commissioned by the Anti-Bullying Alliance has uncovered some very worrying statistics. 60.5% of UK parents believe that cyberbullying is part of everyday life for their children. The survey also asked parents whether they felt they were equipped to deal with the problems raised by cyberbullying. 40% of parents stated that they did not know how to handle cyberbulling issues, whilst 44% of teachers admitted that they didn’t know how to cope with instances of cyberbullying.

These are worrying statistics, but is the problem really as significant as parents and teachers think? The parenting advice website quib.ly investigates…

Is cyberbulling a widespread problem?

So it’s clearly a concern for parents and teachers, but does reality reflect these grown up worries about cyberbullying? In England at least it looks like the problem is not being overstated. 55% of kids surveyed claimed that they see cyberbulling as part of everyday life.

But the facts and figures vary. In March 2013, the NSPCC came out with research which suggested that 38% of children have been affected by the practice. It’s a very difficult thing to monitor. Children have very different perceptions of the issue – for those only indirectly involved, it may not seem like bullying. For the perpetrators of this type of online abuse, speaking honestly about the problem is not possible. Meanwhile, the media are always ready with shock stories which can trigger parental fears and cause more of a panic than necessary.

It does look like there is some disparity between the concerns of adults and the concerns of children on the issue. Just 40% of kids think that cyberbullying and how to deal with it should be included on the national curriculum. Meanwhile 69% of teachers believe that the issue should be incorporated into mandatory lessons at school.

Whatever the percentage of affected children – the figures are still too high. No children should experience persecution online. Whether you’re looking at the highest figure (60.5%) or the lower statistics (38%), these are not negligible figures. The problem needs to be tackled.

Is my child affected by cyberbulling?

In this climate it is understandable for parents to be concerned about their children online. It is difficult for children to speak out about cyberbullying and they may not even recognise that this is a problem affecting them. If you are worried that your child may be a victim of cyberbullying, there are a few warning signs to look out for:

  • Visible nervousness when receiving text and email alerts
  • Hides or closes computer and phone screens when you’re around
  • Withdrawal from friends and peers
  • Impaired academic performance
  • Loss of appetite, volatile moods, noticeable change in behaviour

Of course a lot of these signs are normal teenage behaviour associated with hormonal changes and teenage life. That’s why it’s important to talk to your child about cyberbullying and what’s going on in their life.

How to address the issue

Talk to your children. Make sure they know that you will be supportive no matter what people are saying online. Let them know you are in their corner and will do everything you can to protect them from online bullies.

If your child is evasive, it may be time to take a closer look at browser histories, emails and text messages. This is a drastic step as it constitutes as invasion of privacy, but if you find evidence of cyberbullying it’s crucial not to be angry and present a supportive shoulder for your child. The next step is taking the issue to a trusted teacher or, in extreme cases, to the police.