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Cyber-bullying - how parents can help

publication date: Mar 26, 2008
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author/source: Anne Coates

If your daughter is being cyber-bullied by mobile or via the Internet, it is totally unacceptable and somehow you must let her know this and know that you are there for her.

Girls of her age tend to be secretive about text messages and what they are doing on their web pages and she may be more subdued because she is going through puberty and is confused by the way she feels.

That said she could also be a target for cyber-bullies. When she was bullied at primary school, how was this dealt with? Were the bullies made to see the error of their ways?

If not it may be that your daughter feels no one can help her. Children who are the targets of cyber-bullying can feel very alone and yet just over one fifth of young people have been bullied in this way according to a study conducted by the Anti-bullying Alliance.

Try introducing the subject of bullying in a general way. Say that the daughter of a friend of yours has had problems with nasty text messages and they were sorting it out. Casually ask if she has ever received nasty messages. Even if she says no, tell her that if she ever does she should not retaliate or return the message but shouldn’t delete it either. She should show the text to you or a teacher at school.  Have a word with her form teacher about your worries.

You should reassure her that if she is being bullied she is not to blame. She may feel ashamed about what is being sent to her and not want to discuss it. Ask her if she would like to change her mobile number (and she should restrict who knows it). You can also contact the mobile network to see about blocking numbers but you would need that information from your daughter   The social networking site, bebo, has an excellent page for parents about cyber-bullying. Log on to www.bebo.com - at the bottom of the home page you’ll find a section for parents to click on to. You can see your daughter’s page by putting her name into the search box.

Let your daughter know she can report bullying by clicking on the "Report Abuse" link. Bebo users can also report specific content (photos, videos) by clicking on a "Report Abuse" link located below the content they wish to report.

If you find it difficult to start the conversation about bullying, show her this article.

This question answered by Anne Coates was first published in The Scotsman.