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When your child is being bullied online: a parent's guide


Photo: Nick Page 

Alex Holmes, deputy CEO of The Diana Award, offers advice on how to recognise bullying and what to do if your child is affected

Almost half (46%) of children and young people say they have been bullied in school at some point. With a growing pressure on children to have the latest smart phone, tablet, laptop or music device, for many of these children the bullying doesn’t stop outside the school gates but continues when they get home. 38% of young people report they have been cyberbullied. If you suspect that your child is being bullied online but are not particularly technology savvy, here's how to get to the bottom of the problem and keep your child safe in cyber space.

My child has told me they are being cyberbullied: what should I do?

Thank them for telling you and reassure them that now they have told you, you will be able to help them sort it out. Don’t take away their phone, tablet or laptop, as they shouldn't be punished for the fact that they've been cyberbullied.

Ask them how long the cyberbullying has been happening and ask them to show you what has been said to them. Don’t be angry with them if they have been on a site which they shouldn't have been on.

Ask your child how the cyberbullying made them feel and what they'd like to do to sort the situation. Follow their solution rather than taking over the problem. Make sure you follow their request, but ensure you do the following:

  • Take a screenshot of any abusive comments to keep as evidence. On most computers you can do this is by pressing the PrtScrn button on your keyboard or by using Sniptool which can be found by typing ‘Sniptool’ into the start menu. On Apple devices you can press command-shift-3 to grab the whole screen or command-shift-4 to grab a part, dragging the crosshairs to cover the area you want to snip. [Follow these links for taking screenshot – also referred to as screen grabs – on iPhones or iPads and Android phones and tablets.]
  • Once you have taken a screenshot, encourage your child to delete any unkind messages or photos so they're not being reminded of the bullying.
  • Make your child aware of how to block the person online who is bullying them. Blocking someone will limit the interactions that person can see and have with your child. To find out how to block a person on the particular site or app please visit the site’s safety centre page.
  • Encourage your child not to react or retaliate to the bullying. Retaliating or reacting to the bullying can often make the situation worse.
  • Ask your child to change their password if they need one for the site. This will help ensure that nobody has their account details.
  • Ask your child to re-examine who can see their information. Often with social media sites you can choose who sees the information you share. Encourage them to only allow people to have access to their information who they know and trust.
  • Make the school aware of what has been happening as the bullying may also be happening offline. Headteachers can discipline students for poor behaviour even if the bullying has happened outside the school premises.

Further reading

Advice about online bullying from Respect Me

Cyberbullying: The Diana Award guide for parents

The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or NCA-CEOP.

Updated: May 2018

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