Cyberbullying: How to recognise and deal with the signs

Cyberbullying: How to recognise and deal with the signs

I would like to share John’s story – a 12 year old boy who comes across as confident and rather popular with friends. John was upset because his friends took a photo of him (without his knowledge) in a funny pose and posted it on Instagram. They then tagged him so everyone he knew could see it. He found this very hurtful. Just a few days earlier, these same friends treated him like he was special and a part of their ‘inner sanctum’. This blowing hot and cold is all part of the bullying cycle of abuse and John was well and truly roped into it. It had a detrimental effect on John’s self-esteem. This reminded me of the bullying behaviour I and others faced back in our secondary school years. The dynamics around cyberbullying are very similar to that of real life bullying we faced as children. However, online bullying is more challenged because life on social media does not stop when the bell rings and children make their way back home. When I was John’s age, I could feel safe, away from the bully when not at school and the friendships I built outside school gave me the strength to face the bully at school. John’s bullies follow him home on social media and this is a concept that people of my generation (or older) did not experience as children. Therefore, we need to develop a strong degree of empathy towards our children to try and understand the experiences they are going through when they engage with social media, which is a very important part of their...