Bullying and Cyber Safety information for parents of Teenagers

Bullying & Cyber Safety

Bullying can take many forms including physical violence.  It can also involve being threatened, teased or put down; being left out of things on purpose, being the source of jokes or rumours, having things taken away, or even being forced to do things that they don’t want to do.  Around 1 in 10 secondary school children are bullied every week.  Young people who are being bullied can feel lonely, unhappy and frightened. It makes them feel unsafe and think there must be something wrong with them. They lose confidence, may not want to go to school, and can become ill.

The internet and other technologies are excellent tools to communicate, socialise and learn all at the click of a button.  Your child may be extremely knowledgeable and confident in the cyber world but sometimes they can be exposed to bullying online or can be complacent about their online safety.  Cyber bullying often comes with other types of bullying and involves abusive texts, emails or messages posted on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.

Your teenager is open to a range of unwanted messages when online through websites, chat rooms and social networking sites.  7 in 10 young people have seen pornography online, most of it unintentional.  Other unwanted or inappropriate messages about self-harm, anorexia or hate crimes are readily available online.  The obvious risks of ‘online grooming’ by predatory paedophiles is well publicised but there are other risks associated with technology.  These include giving out personal information to strangers, exploitation to perform sexual or violent acts on webcams, camera and videophones.

Risks:

•  Young people who are bullied are more likely to refuse to go to school or play truant and they can fall behind
•  Young people who are bullied often have really low self confidence
•  Young people who give out personal information over the internet might put themselves at risk of exploitation by adults
•  Young people can be exploited to perform sexual or violent acts on webcams, camera and video phones.  Once posted it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to have this content removed or to stop its distribution. This can risk their future education or job opportunities
•  Young people who post sexual material on the internet about themselves or a boyfriend or girlfriend can get into trouble with the police

Warning Signs:

Some of these behaviours are normal, but several of the warning signs seen together may be an indication that your child is at risk. For help and advice contact one of the organisations listed below.

•  A dip in confidence
•  Mood swings or behaviour changes or becoming anxious or nervous
•  Being secretive about internet use and become defensive about you seeing what they are looking at
•  Dramatic change in appearance e.g. dressing to look older or applying make up to use the computer
•  Problems with school, missing classes or days, or having a drop in grades
•  Changing friends, with more online friends

Where to get help:

Dorset Safe Schools Team: 01202 222844, Dorset Safe Schools Team
National anti bullying campaign: Tel 0207 3781446

For more information:

Dorset anti-bullying website: www.dorsetforyou.com/bullying
Anti bullying Alliance: www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre: report illegal online activity and get e-Safety information www.ceop.gov.uk
The South West Grid for Learning: www.swgfl.org.uk/Staying-Safe
Parentline Plus:A national charity providing free, 24 hour help/ support. Visit www.familylives.org.uk  or call 0808 800 22 22

Bullying & Cyber Safety

Truancy & Antisocial behaviour

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Sexual Health & Teenage Pregnancy Self Harm
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