Cyberbullying is harassing someone online, threatening them or spreading rumours about them by sending or posting harmful messages or other personal content like photos or videos.
Children and young people spend a lot of time on the internet. Recent research published by BeSMartOnline! found 99.4% of primary and secondary schools have access to the internet. This shows penetration of internet access among children in Malta. As a result, there has been a significant increase in cyberbullying.
The best thing you can do as a parent to minimise cyberbullying is to follow the 6 Golden Rules on our homepage. We repeat the importance of keeping an open dialogue with your child. They need to feel comfortable sharing any difficulties they may encounter with you. If your child tells you they are being bullied online do not over react or blame them. Your job is to be supportive and to share ideas on how best to solve the problem or situation. You need to make sure they continue to talk to you about it, especially if the bullying continues. If the problem persists you should seek professional advice from the school counsellor or a therapist.
Learn how to recognise and deal with the signs of cyberbullying through our blog post.
This short video clip may also help! Watch here.
Did you know?
Cyberbullying comes in different forms. We’ve highlighted 8 different techniques below, to help you keep an eye out!
Exclusion: children and teens are developmentally fixated on being recognised by their peers. The process of designating who is a member of the peer group and, more importantly, who is not included can be devastating to the target child.
Flaming: a term describing a passionate online argument that frequently includes profane or vulgar language. This typically occurs in public communication environments for peer bystanders to witness, including discussion boards and groups and chatrooms.
Outing: the public display, posting, or forwarding of personal communication or images of the target child by the cyber bully. Outing becomes even more detrimental to the target child when the communications posted and displayed publicly contains sensitive personal information or images that are sexual in nature.
Threats: a cyber bully tactic used to inspire fear in the target child and then informing other members in the peer group of the alleged threat. The cyber bully sends a threatening e-mail or message to the target child and then forwards or copy & pastes the threatening message to others of the implied threat.
Harassment: the process of sending hurtful messages to the target child that is worded in a severe, persistent or pervasive manner, causing the respondent undue concern. These threatening messages are hurtful, frequent and very serious.
Phishing: a cyber bully tactic that requires tricking, persuading or manipulating the target child into revealing personal and/or financial information about themselves and/or their loved ones. Once the cyber bully acquires this information, they begin to use the information to access their profiles (if they’ve acquired a password) or purchasing unauthorized items with the target child’s or parents’ credit card numbers.
Impersonation: can only occur with the “veil of anonymity” offered by digital technology. Cyber bullies impersonate the target child and make unpopular online comments on social networking sites and in chat rooms. Using impersonation, cyber bullies set up websites that include vitriolic information leading to the target child being ostracized or victimized in more classic bullying ways.
Image & video dissemination: not only a tactic used in cyber bullying, but a form of information exchange that can be a criminal act if the images are pornographic or graphic enough depicting under aged children. Children can receive images directly on their phones and then send them to everyone in their address books. Of all cyber bullying methods, this tactic, which serves to embarrass a target child, can lead to serious criminal charges.
The usage of images and video recording has become a growing concern that many communities, law enforcement agencies and schools are taking seriously. Due in part to the prevalence and accessibility of camera cell phones, photographs and videos of unsuspecting victims or the target child, taken in bathrooms, locker rooms or in other compromising situations, are being distributed electronically. Some images and videos are emailed to peers, while others are published on video sites.
The above information was written by Keith Cutajar, a Cyber-Security specialist, currently specialising in Cybercrime, Digital Forensics and Cyber-Terrorism. He is currently involved in one of Malta’s first Data Security Companies specialising in Data Security, Cybercrime and Digital Forensics services whereby he is the direct point-of-contact with clients and victims of cyber incidents.