Bullying is not a new phenomenon. It has been there for ages. It’s just that the form of bullying has changed in this digital age. Today, most interactions are online, crossing time and space barriers. Even though the ease of online communication is one of the best things today, it comes with a serious problem of cyberbullying. Many insensitive, bigoted or mean people constantly leave nasty comments or harass online. How to deal with all that negative energy? Let’s understand the different forms of online bullying that kids face nowadays and how to deal with them.
What is Bullying?
Recognising the signs of bullying early on is essential to address it. Any behaviour that is intended to hurt someone can be termed bullying. Bullying can take different forms for people of different ages. Some of its common forms include:
- Physical bullying
- Verbal bullying
- Spreading rumours or defaming someone
- Racial, homophobic or sexual bullying
- Bullying someone for a disability they have
- Controlling someone
- Prank calling
Bullying can seem harmless to people, but it can have serious consequences. Mainly, when kids are bullied at a very young age, they develop certain personality disorders. Bullying can affect a person’s mental health and lead to depression, anxiety or eating disorders.
What is Online Bullying?
With the advent of digital technologies and the popularity of social media platforms, bullying has shifted to the online space. Online bullying or cyberbullying refers to bullying someone using digital technologies. Such bullying usually occurs on social media, gaming platforms or mobile devices. Since people can always be contacted online, this has made them more vulnerable to bullying. Moreover, monitoring cyberbullying is difficult as people can easily hide their true identities.
Children and young people are more likely to be bullied online since they are regular social media or internet users. Cyberbullying can appear in the following forms:
- Posting embarrassing photos or videos of someone on social media
- Trolling: Sending mean and disturbing messages to someone
- Sending threatening or hurtful messages
- Sending sexually explicit texts or images
- Creating hate pages to target a person
- Impersonating someone or hacking into their account and embarrassing them
How to know that your child is being bullied?
Children often find it difficult to talk about things that make them uncomfortable. They are either afraid, ashamed or reluctant to talk about it. But as a parent, you must watch out for your child’s welfare. Here are some signs that might indicate that your child is being bullied.
- If your child is reluctant or afraid to go to school and comes up with excuses, then it is clear that something is wrong with him.
- Any physical injuries for which your kid is giving no or vague reasons
- Regular eating and sleeping problems also make it evident that something is wrong with your kid.
- If suddenly the grades of your kid drop at school
- If he is mostly irritated and lashes out or bullies others
Any unusual change in a child’s behaviour should make you vigilant about what’s happening. It is not necessary that he is being bullied, but something is wrong. So, talk to him and make him comfortable enough to open up.
What if your child has bullied someone?
It is equally disturbing for a parent to know their child has bullied someone. You have to make them understand that it is unacceptable and their actions hurt someone. It is essential to teach them to be kind and sensitive to others from a very young age.
Support available to address the problem
Online bullying is a real problem. This is because bullying can have long-term effects on people and can affect their whole personalities. Most often, young children and teenagers become the victims of bullying. Parents should make their children aware of bullying even before they start school. This will give them the confidence to talk about any such incident in case it happens.
Moreover, schools should have awareness sessions regarding cyberbullying. This is because bullying is most likely to start in school. Most schools are already doing a tremendous job in tackling bullying. They have a proper mechanism in place where a child can report such incidents. Also, there are helplines and government authorities to help you deal with this menace.
Bullying should be taken seriously by parents, teachers, other authorities and society as a whole to make our world a happy place.