School violence has received more attention in recent years and, as a result, has gained visibility in recent years.
Cyberbullying is one variant of violence between children and adolescents that has recently been highlighted; it is a variant of harassment via social networks, the number of cases of which has increased due to the rise of this digital media over the past decade.
That is why it has been very important to develop a plan to prevent these forms of violence from which many children and adolescents suffer, in order to raise awareness and avoid as many situations of this nature as possible. In this article we will focus on that, through a review of the fundamental pillars of cyberbullying prevention.
What is cyberbullying?
“Cyberbullying” and “Cyberbullying” are two terms used to define a mode of violence that consists of harass, threaten or even attempt to humiliate another person, in this case a child or adolescent, through digital media such as social media, online video games, or other types of digital media, with the bully usually being a classmate from the same school as the victim.
Save the Children conducted a study in Spain in 2019, interviewing 400 young people across the country, obtaining the surprising figure that over 75% of them experienced some form of online violence throughout their childhood and 47% experienced more than one type of violence.
There are many ways to cyberbully; some of the most common are:
- Doxing: involves sharing another person’s personal information on the Internet without your consent.
- Happy slapping: assaulting another while being recorded with a cell phone to broadcast it later.
- Grooming: when an adult cheats on a child to take sexually explicit videos and photographs.
With that in mind, in the next section, we’ll look at a cyberbullying prevention plan.
Cyberbullying prevention plan
When implementing a cyberbullying prevention plan, it is necessary to make it clear to the people to whom it is intended, such as children and adolescents, their parents, as well as teachers and other members who work in the school where children go, that cyberbullying is not a joke and therefore eIt is a form of violence that violates the rights of young people, so it should not be tolerated under any circumstances..
It is important to point out that in Spain, after the latest advances in recent years, bullying or perhaps bullying in all its forms is already recognized as a form of violence. However, further progress is needed in this area and stronger action is also needed. focus more on prevention plans that educate the entire population and especially the target population (children and adolescents) so that they are more respectful of their peers and stop engaging in these violent practices against others.
Here are some things to keep in mind in order to prevent cyberbullying.
1. Bullying among young people is not only practiced at school
When we talk about bullying, we have to keep in mind that it doesn’t just happen in the school context, although it may be the place where the bullying originates., because it is the main social environment in which young people gather.
However, with the remarkable growth in the use of new technologies among younger people, new modalities have emerged to harass all types of minors inside and outside of school.
2. The rights of victims but also of aggressors must be guaranteed
It is very important to keep in mind that in cases of violence between children and adolescents, both are minors. Your rights must be respected and fully guaranteed by law.
Therefore, when dealing with any case of harassment or cyberbullying during the action, this principle should be kept in mind. That means the confidentiality of the case must be respected in order not to expose either of the minors to situations which could be prejudicial to both.
A way must be found to settle the case in a conciliatory manner and always in an educational and socializing perspective so that both the victim and the aggressor, who are ultimately children, become aware of the gravity of the situation and learn that this does not happen. should not be repeated so that the victim does not apply it to others as a means of self-defense, or the abuser assumes an abusive role, thus perpetuating this way of behaving with others.
3. It is essential that children participate in the fight against cyberbullying and bullying
When implementing measures to prevent cyberbullying or harassment it is very important that the children are involved because it is a way to get an effective response from them..
In this way, they are more likely to feel responsible for the actions taken in the face of harassment, as they have a capacity for empathy which enables them to support those who experience violence and therefore seek protection by asking for help.
4. The population and especially children must learn what cyberbullying is
Families, as well as teachers and many professionals, they do not yet have all the knowledge or appropriate means to find their way around a case of cyberstalking, just as many children do not realize that they are suffering from such a situation, so they come to normalize it.
This is why it is essential to develop training plans that teach and educate both adults and children about what cyberbullying is, in what ways it is usually practiced and what are the signs that would help prevent it. detect that a child is suffering from this mode of bullying.
5. Cyberbullying can cause a lot of harm in no time.
Cyberbullying is a particularly relevant form of violence because young people today are already ‘digital natives’, meaning they were raised surrounded by technological devices, so the vast majority of members of this generation are hyperconnected to networks.
This means that new forms of harassment such as cyberbullying have emerged, taking on particular importance in it is more difficult to detect the aggressor because there is not always direct and regular contact with the victim. In addition, harassment can be done with a pseudonym which makes it difficult to identify; it is therefore easier to perpetuate the bullying over time.
On another side, the audience witnessing this act of violence can be amplified without control given the high speed at which messages and posts can be delivered through social media. It is therefore important to monitor minors’ access to these platforms with a high potential for viralization.
6. Educate children about the responsible use of digital resources
Considering the particular gravity of cyberbullying of what has been mentioned above, it is necessary to educate the youngest in the correct and respectful use of new technologies.
For that online campaigns have been carried out, accessible to all users, which promote education based on respect for diversity and human rights, as well as others aimed at responsible digital education of the population.
7. Quickly detect cyberbullying if the prevention plan fails
It is crucial to detect a case of cyberbullying as early as possible because the consequences will be more serious the longer it lasts. While it is true that it is very difficult to detect such a case since, although it can occur between classmates, this mode of bullying can be done outside of school hours without the presence of teachers, it is necessary to provide children with resources, such as online portals, so that they can ask for help in order to that their anonymity be respected and that measures be taken as soon as possible.
It should be noted that in the case of cyberstalking, the law of silence can be given, namely that the witnesses do not dare to ask for help because of the fear of consenting to retaliation from the perpetrator. or to be marginalized by being seen as a villain.
8. Equip schools with professionals qualified in cyberbullying strategies.
Schools need to have expert professionals who can provide cyberbullying detection resources so that they can put an end to it as quickly as possible and so that such cases do not reoccur.
In such cases the figure of a psychologist in the centers is useful who has the knowledge to detect and combat data chaos.
It is also important that schools have protocols for action in these cases which are clear, which reach everyone (teachers, pupils and parents), which are well coordinated between all members and which involve the children in their participation.
Signs that a child is being bullied
First, a very common warning sign among young people who are bullied is a marked drop in school performance.
Another very common sign is the categorical and repeated refusal to participate in school and extracurricular activities; all the more striking since they were very participatory a long time ago.
Physical and psychological symptoms can also occur, such as bad mood, lack of motivation to perform activities they did often, eating more or less than what they ate regularly, difficulty sleeping, complaints of headache and stomach ache, & vs.
Cyberbullying prevention tips for children and teens
It is crucial that children and teens learn the boundaries between making a joke on a partner without any meanness and when those red lines have been crossed, becoming a form of harassment and violence. They must stop normalizing this old habit of passing certain jokes using methods that can be disproportionate and violent.
It is clear that in the research carried out on this by Save of Children, when some children were asked about the cause of their assault on other classmates, they did not know how to explain the reason. This is why carry out an effective prevention plan with the youngest, teach them a more respectful way to relate to their peers, is proving to be one of the most effective ways to prevent and combat the various ways in which bullying can be carried out.
When developing a plan for the prevention of cyberbullying, as in any other form of bullying with children, it is necessary to work from basic psychological elements such as empathy, assertiveness, self, a critical mind and evaluation of the effects that may arise as a result of their behavior.
There are also a number of basic guidelines for young people that can help them prevent cyberbullying:
- If they are being harassed via social media, it is advisable not to get into the game by responding to the abuser.
- When they experience harassment on the net, it is crucial to take screenshots in order to have demonstrable evidence.
- Personal data should never be provided over the network.
- Do not behave in networks like you would not behave in real life.
- In case of serious threats, it is very important to seek emergency help.
- If you are experiencing cyberbullying or any other type of harassment, there are a number of websites and contact phones for help (vary by region).
- You should never hesitate when asking for help, it is essential to stop the problem as soon as possible.
- If they are being harassed through a forum or social network, you can report your case to the page manager.
- Children should know that by harassing others through the network, they are committing a very serious crime.
- Lucas, B., Pérez, A., Martín, J. and Fonseca, E. (2021). Psychological treatments for bullying and cyberstalking in schools. In E. Fonseca (Coord.), Manual of psychological treatments. Childhood and adolescence (pp. 617-649). Madrid: Ediciones Pirámide.
- Luengo, JA (2014). Cyberbullying: Prevent and Take Action. Madrid: Official College of Psychologists of Madrid.
- Save the Children (sf). Cyberbullying or cyberbullying. Retrieved from https://www.savethechildren.es/donde/espana/violencia-contra-la-infancia/ciberasseticament-ciberbullying.
- Save the Children (2016). I don’t play that: childhood bullying and cyberbullying. Madrid: Save the Children Spain.