File picture: Pixabay
File picture: Pixabay

How to take a stand against cyberbullying

By Yasmine Jacobs Time of article published Nov 20, 2020

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The 20th of November marks International Stand Up to Bullying Day. This semi-annual event encourages people to take a visible stance against bullying and serves as an opportunity to tackle a type of bullying that has plagued children for years.

It’s not physical but the mental scars remain.

South Africa has the highest prevalence of cyberbullying, based on a total of 54% of South African parents who know of a child in their community who has been the victim of cyberbullying.

“The threat of being cyberbullied has now increased given the unprecedented rise in screen time during the coronavirus pandemic. While many social media platforms are taking their policies seriously when it comes to reducing cyberbullying, children remain at risk and more still needs to be done,” said Casey Rousseau from 1st for Women Insurance, who launched SA’s first cyber-bullying insurance policy in 2018.

Now is the time for parents to be proactive in speaking to their children about online safety and cyberbullying.

Cyber safety expert, founder of SaveTNet Cyber Safety and author of “Raising a SCREEN SAVVY child”, Rianette Leibowitz, lists tips on what parents need to consider.

“There are different types of cyberbullying and it is a process of using the internet and digital platforms to intentionally embarrass or hurt someone. To help them deal with this, children need cyber savvy parents. You can join groups on social media, attend seminars and also see what educational sessions your children’s schools might be offering,” she advises.

*Tell your child what cyberbullying is, what the signs are as well as how to recognise it. It is and will be important for them to identify and vocalise this.

*Check their privacy settings, terms and conditions and usage rights of the platforms your children are on.

*Make sure to adhere to age restrictions specified by the platforms. Also make use of parental control apps and set up a social media or internet usage agreement with your children so that you are both on the same page of what is acceptable or unacceptable online behaviour.

*Be interested and involved in your child’s online world and have regular conversations about the friends they meet, the games they play and the risks involved.

“While we cannot always control the internet and social media usage of our children, we have to be realistic that they are susceptible to being bullied. It is important then that we, as parents, equip both them and ourselves as best as possible to deal with this issue.” said Rousseau.


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