This week, we’re featuring an interview series with Vanessa Rogers, an experienced and highly regarded teacher and youth worker, and author of the recent book, Cyberbullying: Activities to Help Children and Teens to Stay Safe in a Texting, Twittering, Social Networking World.
Today, Vanessa discusses how to tell when a young person is being cyberbullied.
As with any form of bullying it is often hard to spot the signs of cyberbullying. The insidious nature of targeting someone online, or cyber stalking, means that the perpetrator often remains faceless. However, teachers should look out for any marked changes in pupil’s behaviour, and remember that they may well be working with the bully as well as the victim of any bullying in the same class. For example, changes in friendship groups, pupils becoming withdrawn or obsessive use of chatrooms are all possible indicators that bullying is taking place. Teachers should regularly check the sites that pupils have been visiting online and be aware of young people who are either over secretive or over zealous with their online activity.
Young people I have worked with who have been a victim of cyberbullying describe feeling nervous, distracted and trapped with, ‘no way out’. These feelings can lead to frustration and/or depression with many victims avoiding school or social settings where they may come across their tormentors. Equally, they may never be quite sure who their bully is, leading to mistrust of everyone and general aggressiveness. However, all of these potential indicators are also arguably signs of normal adolescent development, so teachers should be vigilant but take care not to jump to conclusions.
Vanessa Rogers is a qualified teacher and youth worker with over ten years’ experience within Hertfordshire Youth Service, UK, both at practitioner and management levels. Prior to becoming a nationally acclaimed youth work consultant, Vanessa managed a wide range of services for young people including a large youth centre and targeted detached projects for Hertfordshire County Council. Vanessa has written a number of popular resource books aimed at those working with young people, and she also has a column in ‘Youth Work Now’, a supplement of the national magazine ‘Children and Young People Now’. Vanessa’s website can be found at www.vanessarogers.co.uk.
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