Primary 6 was a really horrible period in my life. I did well for my Primary 5 examinations and was transferred to the top class in my cohort. Initially, I felt really honoured, since it was like a promotion. Little did I know that soon, I would regret being in this privileged position. Being the newbie in class, I was stranded with no friends and a brand new form teacher. Things went for a worse turn when I started on a wrong footing with a guy who subsequently took pleasure with making life a living hell for me. Being pretty overweight then, I had little friends in the new environment. I dreaded going to school and home was the only sanctuary I look forward to at the end of each day.
There’s Nowhere To Hide
Looking back, I took comfort in the thought that online social media sites were not present then. In today’s world, bullying is no longer bounded within the school compound. Bullying has taken on a new face with cyberbullying. Victims are subjected to cruel, offending and threatening messages, photos or even videos on email, online forums, chatroom, mobile app messages or social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Victims are usually children who are ‘different’, for example physically challenged or come from different background like me who is from a less ‘talented’ class.
Back then I can still look forward to the warmth of my home. Knowing that once I am home, I will be safe from all the bullying. But with cyberbullying, victims have nowhere to hide. Children are entrusted with smartphones these days. Bullies today can simply snap photos or videos of embarrassing moments and disgrace their victims on digital and social media channels within minutes to the entire school!
Will you want your own children to suffer mental and emotional cruelty at a young tender age? Or worse still what if your kids are the perpetrator of the hideous act?
Think It Will Never Happen To Your Kids?
If you think your kids haven’t experienced bullying in the digital schoolyard – you may want to think again. According to the Norton Online Family Report 2011, a staggering 71 percent of children in Singapore have experienced some negative situation online. Cyberbullying, just like any other form of cybercrime, is a very real crime and needs to be taken seriously. It is important that parents take responsibility to ensure that their children are neither victims nor bullies.
Cyberbullying is hard to detect because there are no physical signs of hurt. Some telltale signs parents can look out for include:
– Irritability, anger and frustration after using the phone or the Internet.
– Avoidance of activities they used to enjoy and people they liked to meet.
– The child becomes easily distracted and academic performance starts showing signs of decline.
If your child starts showing any of those signs, have a conversation to find out what is troubling them. Open communication is vital to keeping our children safe online. If your child has been a victim of cyberbullying, here are some simple steps to deal with it:
– Document the bullying, and report the bully.
– If the bullying takes place at school, report it to your child’s teachers and school authorities.
– If possible, talk to the bully’s parents, and offer to show them the offensive material.
– If the bullying seems more serious and involves threats or adult predators, report it to the police.
Here’s a secret trick to parents to spy on their children’s classroom dynamics.
Throw a gathering or two and invite classmates over, be the ‘cool’ mom or dad and check out how the kids interact with one another. If the children like you enough, they will openly share the gossips and other stuff happening at school.
What’s Safer Internet Day (SID)?
Safer Internet Day (SID) is organised every year in February to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people across the world. This year, this meaningful day will be celebrated on 11 February 2014. It is an international event with a global theme of ‘Let’s create a better internet together’, brought to Singapore by Media Literacy Council. It focuses on 4 main values to make the Internet a better place, namely Responsibility, Empathy, Integrity and Respect.
On 5 February 2013, Singapore participated in SID 2013 for the first time. This year will be the second year that Singapore participated in SID. Check out SID 2014 video below:
You Have The Power
Every one of us has the power to make the Internet a better place by adopting these 4 simple core values:
Take The Pledge And Spread The Love
Every one of us can make a difference to safer Internet for our loved ones.
Other than taking the pledge, share with us how you will help your children, friend or relative’s kids get through a horrible cyberbullying incident in the comments section below. You can also write about this with hashtag #sid2014sg on your own social media channels too.