Tips on protecting children from cyberbullying from the Department for Education

In support of Stop Cyberbullying Day and to help parents tackle cyberbullying, the Department for Education have sent these tips exclusively to London Mums. They show how parent can protect children from cyberbullying in simple steps. We have also included a little background on what the government is doing to promote internet safety in schools.

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Top tips on how to protect your child from cyberbullying from the Department for Education

With an ever growing social media presence in our children’s lives the reality is that most children have been involved in cyberbullying in some way, either as a victim, perpetrator, or bystander. Often, people can be bystanders without fully realising, meaning the situation can quickly spiral out of control.

Parents and carers have a challenging job – you need to know what your children are doing online and also help them to do it in a safe way.

1. Set boundaries – Supervise children’s internet access by setting boundaries and making an agreement on what they can and cannot do online. If the agreement is broken, you could restrict internet access for an agreed period of time.

2. Follow restrictions – Social Networks have a minimum age restriction, usually age thirteen. Explain to your children that these restrictions are in place for their safety.

3. Arm your children with advice:
·      Make sure to use the privacy settings on offer.
·      Be careful what you say online. Respect others and do not retaliate or reply to offending e-mails, text messages or online conversations – leave the conversation.
·     Be careful what pictures or videos you upload. Once a picture is shared online it cannot be taken back.

·     Only add people you know and trust to friends or followers lists online. If talking to strangers, keep your personal information safe and location hidden.

·       Block the bully – block someone who is behaving badly and report them to the service in use. Many services take bullying seriously and will either warn the individual or eliminate his or her account.
·        Save the evidence. Always keep a copy of offending e-mails, text messages or a screen grab of online conversations and pass to a parent, a carer or a teacher.
·        Make sure you tell an adult you trust, like a parent, a carer, a teacher, the anti-bullying co-ordinator or call a helpline like Childline on 08001111 in confidence.

4. Spot the signs of cyberbullying – Cyberbullying is typically hard to spot as it can happen at any time. Be alert to a change in your child’s behaviour, such as:
·        Being upset or withdrawn after using the internet or their mobile phone.
·        Unwilling to talk or secretive about their online activities and mobile phone use.
·        Spending much more or much less time texting, gaming or using social media than usual.
·        Not wanting to partake in previously enjoyable situations like going to school or meeting friends and school mates.

5. Support – Support for children who are bullied is available within schools, through both Childline and the Anti-Bullying Alliance – all whom help build confidence and a sense of emotional safety.

What is government doing about internet safety?

In December last year the government announced strengthened measures to protect children from harm online – including cyberbullying, pornography and the risk of radicalisation. Revised guidance for schools about filtering and monitoring to prevent access to harmful material online will come into force this September alongside existing teaching about internet safety throughout school.
The government also announced measures including:

  • Two practical guides on social media – including one to help parents keep their children safe online produced by the UK’s Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCISS)  – to help children understand the risks and benefits of social media, and prevent risks becoming problems.
  • An updated Thinkuknow site offers a completely refreshed suite of articles and guidance on all aspects of child internet safety, as well as providing specific advice for parents and carers on preventing their children from becoming victims of sexual abuse and exploitation both online and in the ‘real world; and
  • New industry-led awareness raising initiatives including Google’s ‘Internet Legends’ tour which will travel around the country delivering assemblies to school children in 40 locations during this school year, to help kids stay safe online, so they can get the most out of all that the internet can offer.

In addition, ParentInfo, a new government funded online service, offers free expert advice to schools on how children and young people can stay safe online. This information can be hosted on individual schools websites making it easily accessible to parents and carers who can then discuss these important issues at home. It’s already available in 2,500 schools giving parents practical advice and tips on issues such as sexting, and online bullying.
We have given schools powers to help them contain cyber-bullying during the school day by banning or limiting the use of mobiles and other electronic devices. Teachers also have the power to search for, and if necessary delete, inappropriate images or files on electronic devices, including mobile phones.

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