A ONCE bubbly teenager, who was tormented, humiliated and embarrassed by a school cyber bully, was so traumatised that she dropped out of one of her favourite extra- curricular activities.
Cyber-bullying is the use of the internet and related technologies to harm people, in a deliberate, repeated and hostile manner.
The Sidwell girl, who was an avid swimmer, could not face the pool again after a group of her peers sent a broadcast message calling her a “chubby, fat loser” earlier this year.
According to the Grade 9 pupil, one of her friends told her nasty messages about her were going around on a BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) group.
“One girl was talking about how I look like a hippo in my swimsuit and she doesn’t understand how I can take off my clothes when I look like that.
“By nature I am a confident person. I know I’m not as thin as some of the girls in school but I didn’t even care about that. But somehow these girls that I thought were OK managed to crack my confidence.”
The girl said she now only went to school and back and did not attend any school socials.
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5 tips to protect your child
SOME of the most popular social networks used by cyber bullies include MXit, WhatsApp, BBM, Facebook and chatrooms.
This is according to the Nelson Mandela Bay University’s Institute for ICT Advancement security expert and director, Professor Rossouw von Solms.
He believes parents can protect their children by following some of these steps:
- Teach your child empathy. Let your child imagine he/she is on the receiving side. This might stop your child from bullying or merely just watching others being bullied;
- Teach your child the difference between being funny and cruel. If your child will not say it in person he/she should not say it via electronic means;
- Teach your child how to stop it. Children should not respond or retaliate as that is the fastest way to stop the communication. Bullies like being fed;
- Try to make your child an “upstander” and not a bystander. Let your child not merely continue to witness bullying, but assist in stopping it by reporting it; and
- Ensure your child will talk to somebody if being bullied. You must make sure your child speaks to somebody who can help if he/she is a cyber-bullying victim.