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Cyberbullying

WHAT IS CYBER BULLYING?

  • Cyber bullying is a form of bullying using cyberspace instead of face to face confrontation.  Cyber bullying can take the form of threatening and insulting messages, postings and e-mails.
  • You should instruct your children to never give out personal information over the Internet and to never to open messages from unknown persons or from known bullies.
  • If your child is being bullied there are numerous ways to stop it. Tell your child never to reply to insulting messages or postings.
  • Some forms of cyber bullying are considered criminal acts. If the messages are threatening bodily harm and you fear for your child's safety, contact the police.
  • Communicating with someone and causing them to become fearful for their own safety is a criminal offence.
  • Cyber bullies often violate the Canadian Human Rights Act, when he or she spreads hate or discrimination that makes fun of your race, nationality, sex or disability.
  • If you are a victim of cyber bullying then contact the Thunder Bay Police Service by phone at 807-684-1200.
    To anonymously report a crime, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

WHAT CAN KIDS DO IF THEY ARE CYBER BULLIED?

  • Unlike whispered threats, cyber bullying leaves a trail of evidence, enabling victims to trace their aggressors. When cyber bullying occurs, victims should keep a record of all messages, with their times and dates. E-mail messages can be traced and used as evidence. Kids setting up Instant Messaging accounts should enable the "conversation history" option, so that their computer will store logs of IM conversations.
  • Cell phone companies can trace any harassing calls and text messages sent through their service, unless the messages are coming from a Web site.
  • In the case of an offensive Web site, victims can track down a web site host by using one of the many Whois search tools on the Web, and then ask the company hosting the site to remove it. However, unless the content is illegal, hosts are not obligated to do so. Whois sites allow people to search for the host of a Web domain. Because there is no central database for this information, users may need to reference more than one Whois site.

HERE ARE THREE EASY-TO-REMEMBER ACTIONS WE RECOMMEND TO VICTIMS OF CYBER BULLYING:

  1. Stop: Don't try to reason with or talk to an online bully.
  2. Block: Use the technology to block the person from contacting you again.
  3. Talk: Tell a trusted adult (such as a parent, teacher, coach or guidance counselor), use a help line such as Kids Help Phone or report the incident to the police.

HOW CAN ADULTS HELP KIDS CONFRONT BULLIES?

  • Just like kids watching a fight in the schoolyard, bystanders may hesitate to speak out against cyber-bullies for fear of retaliation. Schools and parents need to create a culture that encourages kids to challenge bullying, harassment, and meanness.
  • Educating kids about the seriousness of cyber bullying is vital. Many kids think "bullying" means only physical threats and violence. Once they realize that cyber-bullying can be just as hurtful psychologically, they need to know that parents, teachers and other adults will support them if they choose to confront a cyber-bully. Kids' reactions can be crucial to defusing a cyber-bullying situation, because censure from fellow students can carry more clout with bullies than criticism from adults.
  • The best time to talk to students about ways to combat cyber-bullying is in the late elementary and middle school years, when peer pressure intensifies and Internet use rises dramatically.

CYBER PROOFING YOUR CHILD - TEN TIPS TO ONLINE SAFETY

  1. Position the computer in your main living space and make sure the monitor faces OUTWARD into the room so there is no secrecy. This is the single MOST valuable thing you can do for your child's health and safety online.
  2. Work as a team to set your boundaries. Discuss with your child exactly what is OK and what is not OK regarding what kind of Web sites that are appropriate for them to visit. Set logical consequences for when your child disregards your rules (like grounded from the Internet for 1 week), but do NOT threaten to ban the Internet forever.
  3. Encourage your child to tell you when they receive any weird or upsetting messages while chatting.  Ensure they know that you will not be angry with them nor will you ban the Internet as a result. Make it clear to the child that you understand that the child cannot control what other people say to him or her and that they are not to blame if this happens.
  4. Set strict time limits for Internet chat use and enforce them. Internet addiction is a real thing!
  5. Make it clear to your child that people in chat rooms are ALWAYS strangers, no matter how often they chat to them, and no matter how well they think they know them, and that while they may be good or bad people, they are still strangers. Your child should therefore not always believe everything people say in chat rooms.
  6. Make sure your child understands that they are never to tell a person online their real name, their school, their phone number or where they live.
  7. Do not permit your child to be left alone in cyberspace for long periods of time - this is when they are most vulnerable. Make sure that their chat time occurs when YOU are around in the house so that you can check in on them regularly.
  8. Be sure to stress to your child that they are to behave politely and respectfully at all times while chatting online with strangers or sending email to friends.
  9. Don't panic! No one can harm your child through the Internet as long as your child follows your rules.
  10. Take an active interest in your child's activity online. Do NOT use the Internet as a babysitter! Learn to surf the Web and chat online yourself so you understand what it is that your child is doing. If you don't know how to chat online, ask your child to teach you.

 WHAT ARE WARNING SIGNS THAT YOUR CHILD MIGHT BE AT RISK ONLINE?

  • Your child becomes withdrawn from the family. Computer-sex offenders will work very hard at driving a wedge between a child and their family or at exploiting their relationship. They will accentuate any minor problems at home that the child might have. Children may also become withdrawn after sexual victimization.
  • Your child is using an on-line account belonging to someone else. Even if you don't subscribe to an on-line service or Internet service, your child may meet an offender while on-line at a friend's house or the library. Most computers come preloaded with on-line and/or Internet software.
  • Computer-sex offenders will sometimes provide potential victims with a computer account for communications with them.
  • Children on-line are at the greatest risk during the evening hours. While offenders are on-line around the clock, most work during the day and spend their evenings on-line trying to locate and lure children or seeking pornography.

 

 

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