Cyber Bullying

I would like to heighten the profile of a message conveyed by Tanya Montgomery, our Guidance Counselor, earlier in the year in the June newsletter. Cyber bullying continues to be very topical for teenagers, and the following message contains some really good advice. Her message follows:

As the School Guidance Counsellor I have noticed a concerning increase over the last few months in cyber bullying. This trend is being noticed in others school also. The bullying occurs mainly out of school hours but spills over into the school day. The consequences of the bullying are therefore sometimes picked up by the Guidance Counsellor. As such I would like to take a few moments to remind us of the cyber bullying issues our young adolescent face. One website of particular concern that is very popular with young adolescents at the moment is called “Ask FM”. This is an anonymous website where your child signs up and anyone can ask questions or make comments about them anonymously.

While this website appears harmless and fun to adolescents it is a feeding ground for bullying and vicious comments. I am sure many of our natural response is to ‘pull the plug’, and remove young people away from the source of bullying. This however, is an error as technology is fundamental to the way modern children communicate. Often this approach may mean that the young person will not then tell anyone when they are bullied, for fear of losing their computer, mobile phone etc.

As we are seeing a spike in cyber bullying at the moment and in particular from this website I would like to suggest you talk with your adolescent to see what they know about Ask FM and if they are on it. If possible discuss with them about getting off the site and the bullying risks associated with being on it.

Cyber bullying is a problem for many of our young adolescents and I am aware there are many forums where cyber bullying is an issue. It will take the community to work together to reduce this harm. I have attached a few hints for dealing with cyber bullying that you may find helpful:

      • Caregivers should regularly discuss cyber bullying with their children and encourage them to report incidents.
      • Any bullying emails, texts etc. should always be saved as evidence.
      • Instruct your child to: 

a) Not respond to a bully’s message
b) If messages continue, then reply strongly in a non- threatening way to stop
c) Block/filter all future messages.
d) If necessary, change their email address, account, username or phone number.

      • Students should be told NEVER give out any private information or say anything in a chat room they would not want to be made public.
      • Families should file complaints with internet service providers and mobile phone companies – misuse is a clear violation of their ‘terms of use’.
      • Threating messages can be taken and reported to the local police.
      • Keep having conversations with your child about the sites and chat rooms they join up with and how to keep themselves safe.

Tanya Montgomery, Guidance Counsellor

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