Bullying comes in many different forms, but one of the most sinister is online through social media. Psychologist Michael Carr-Greig is a founding member of the national centre for bullying. He works for Beyond Blue, and he's also been called upon to help counsel the students in the latest loss of life through cyber bullying. He states that cyber bullying is worse than school yard bullying as it can continue 24/7. Because the bully doesn’t need to see its victim the bullying is often more intense, and more frequent and can be far more damaging. Cyber bullying is difficult to get away from as today’s youth are in many ways so deeply dependent on their phones and computers to develop or increase their social network, that banning them would be what the kids would call ‘social death’.
Here are some ideas:
- Talk to your child about bullying – ask them if it has or is happening to them either face to face or through the mobile or internet. If it is happening act now.
- Supervise your child’s internet and mobile usage (with teenagers this may be more difficult but as children need 8.25 to 9.25 hrs of good sleep each night encourage the mobile to be turned off and left outside the bedroom.
- Limit internet usage. Where possible have the computer in a public area)
- Watch for changes in your child’s behaviour – Are they withdrawn or not themselves? Are they sad/ tearful/angry/ not enjoying things they may have once enjoyed? Is school work affected? These factors may indicate depression. It may also indicate that your child is unwell.
- As bullies thrive on secrecy, if you, the parent know about bullying then report it – to the school or police and ensure follow up with you occurs.
- Michael Carr-Greig states that to help children be resilient:
- They need to have an adult in their life who they feel safe with (and will feel comfortable talking to)
- Children need to learn social and emotional skills – both at home and at school.
- Provide a balanced life for your child – school is one part of their life. Involve them also in the arts, music, sport, leisure.
- Teach your child to self- talk positively – it’s just as easy to say something nice about yourself as it is to put yourself down
- Provide spiritual awareness – being connected to something/someone that transcends this world helps with people to cope with problems.
If you need more help on this issue, these numbers may be useful Lifeline 131114 or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 or speak to your Guidance Officer at your school.
Adapted from Michael Carr Greig’s Radio Conversation 22/7/09