Posted on Friday, October 26, 2018

Warning signs of cyber bullying: the victim and the bully

Ladies, cyber bullying in South Africa has reached epidemic proportions, with far-reaching and devastating consequences. One harrowing example is an 11-year-old girl, from a Johannesburg school, who recently committed suicide as a result of cyber bullying. Similar reports have made headlines worldwide, highlighting the urgent need for action – both in assisting victims and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

In many cyber bullying cases, fast and effective legal intervention can minimise the effects of this abusive behaviour. This intervention however can be extremely expensive, with lawyers charging around R3 000 an hour for consultations alone.

To ease the financial burden of these exorbitant costs, we launched our Cyber Insurance policy, which includes cover for cyber bullying – comprising litigation cover of up to R55 000, among other benefits. In addition, we’re running an informative blog series to empower parents with the information and tools needed to deal with cyber bullying, and keep their children safe online.

It’s critical that parents know exactly what cyber bullying is and the different types of cyber bullying to identify if their children are being affected. Below are some warning signs of cyber bullying.

How do I know if my child is being cyber bullied?

Here are some warning signs to look out for:

  • Seems angry, irritable, frustrated or depressed after going online. They may also seem regularly depressed.
  • Appears edgy or nervous when receiving instant messages or emails, engaging in conversations on social media or other online forums, etc.
  • Avoids conversations about their online activities.
  • Displays unusually secretive behaviour, particularly related to online activity.
  • Stops using their digital devices unexpectedly.
  • Abruptly turns off or walks away from the computer, or other device, mid-use.
  • Oversleeps or doesn’t get enough sleep.
  • Changes in their eating pattern e.g. excessive eating or loss of appetite.
  • Suffers unexplained head and/or stomach aches.
  • Disengages from activities, hobbies or pastimes they previously enjoyed.
  • Is unusually withdrawn from friends and family.
  • Often claims to feel ill to avoid going to school or to leave early.  

How do I know if my child is a cyber bully?

Here are some warning signs to look out for:

  • Is online and using their digital devices i.e. cell phone, laptop, etc. at all hours of the night.
  • Switches screens or closes programmes when you are close by.
  • Is extremely concerned with their status, popularity or standing in a specific social circle.
  • Will often laugh excessively at something they’ve seen on their device, and refuse to share it with you.
  • Negatively overreacts if there is a limitation set to their device usage.
  • It appears they are using more than one account online and/or one that isn’t their own.
  • Has a history of bullying others or has been bullied.
  • Avoids conversations about their online activities.
  • Increased behavioural issues at school or outside.
  • Extremely insensitive and unsympathetic to their peers.
  • Displays violent tendencies.

So now that you know the warning signs, what next? In our upcoming blog we look at ways to address cyber bullying – from prevention to support measures.

In the meantime, because we know you like to be prepared, we have you and your loved ones covered with Cyber Insurance – which includes not only cyber bullying cover but cover for other prevalent cyber risks: cyber liability insurance, cyber theft insurance and recovery of lost data.

All of these cover benefits are available to you, your spouse and up to four dependent children, up to the age of 21, for only R99 a month. Click here for more information and the terms and conditions of our Cyber Insurance policy.

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