How to Deal with Cyber Bullies
How to deal with cyberbullies
Microsoft’s 2012 survey of 25 countries ranked Singapore second-highest in terms of cyber-bullying1. This is an issue particularly for the young— Survey data in Singapore suggests that about three in ten school children and youths have experienced cyber bullying. If your child is ever a victim of cyber-bullying, what should he/she do?
In deciding how to respond, let’s first understand what cyber-bullying is. There is no universal consensus about the definition of cyber-bullying; the term varies between different cultures and individuals. According to the Media Literacy Council of Singapore, cyber-bullying is the use of electronic media - especially mobile phones and the internet - to intimidate, threaten or upset someone. This can include:
- Texting scary or rude messages by mobile phone
- Sending unpleasant photographs
- Using emails, online message boards, chat rooms or social networking sites to post cruel messages (e.g. threatening the target and their families, or posting slanderous comments about the target)
- Finding and leaking the target’s personal data online
(The list2 is not exhaustive)
Why is cyber-bullying so prevalent among young people? Besides the fact that this is the media-savvy generation of today’s digital age, another reason is that many youths have been conditioned to view cyber-bullying as a norm. Since the Internet is a common space, many feel at liberty to post and publish without taking time to filter out anything hurtful or inappropriate, especially when they are allowed to remain anonymous. Often cyber-bullying also happens because young people do not know how else to resolve conflicts; typing on a keyboard is easier than saying (things) in person.3 Parents, do ensure your children are open to you regarding their online experiences; often victims are afraid of seeking help. Here are some tips which you can share with them.
- First, cease contact with the cyber-bully immediately, and block him/her from your friends’ list if possible to prevent further communication.
- Talk to a trusted adult about the incident (preferably your parents!)
- Regardless of whether you are a victim or witness of cyber-bullying, do not circulate the content. Also do not just remain silent and allow the bullying to continue. Instead, save the evidence and report it to the authorities. Currently, internet users are protected by laws against harassment. New and updated laws are expected to be tabled soon.
- Be firm when educating your child about cyber-bullying. Teach them that cyber-aggression is something they should control and warn them of the consequences if they fail to do so.
1. Han, K. (2013, November 22). Cyber-harassment in Singapore: Where to draw the line? Yahoo! News.
2. Media Literacy Council. (2013). Cyber Bullying.
3. TODAYonline. (2014, February 8.) How should we deal with cyber-bullies?