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Rise in cyberbullying due to the pandemic

Jackie Cook of Teneo online school. Supplied.

Jackie Cook of Teneo online school. Supplied.

Published Oct 29, 2021

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Cyberbullying more detrimental than traditional bullying as it can occur 24/7 via different channels

Cape Town - The pandemic has seen a rise in cyberbullying and experts believe the numbers will only go up.

Since lockdown a lot of people including children have had to adapt to digital life.

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Teneo online school’s COO Jackie Cook, said cyberbullying is merely old-fashioned bullying carried out via digital mediums and forums. As with traditional bullying it can stem from a number of reasons, and is often closely linked to children requiring additional attention.

She said bullies do this because of peer pressure, power, popularity, diversion, issues at home and prejudice.

She said bullying does not something that disappears when someone leaves school - there are bullies in the workplace and social groups

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“In school children, we start to notice it from about ten years of age, so addressing it early on is crucial,” said Cook.

Cook said cyberbullying was hard to prevent, but it can be addressed through awareness and education.

“Grooming kind digital citizens who take responsibility for their online actions will be key to combating cyberbullying,”

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Cook said the youth needed to learn that kindness was an extension of one’s self, and need to be encouraged to have be courteous, both offline and online.

Cook said children must be encouraged to confide in their parents or a responsible adult such as a teacher, who will advise them on how to deal with bullying.

She said bullying thrives and grows in silence, listening to children and believing them helps them navigate those spaces.

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Education Psychologist Fathima Badat said young people tended to be unaware of the psychological damage that bullying can cause, and since there were seldom any consequences to their bullying they saw no reason to stop.

“They also fail to appreciate that any information, whether visual or verbal, once posted online, can never truly be erased it becomes a permanent record, which can also rebound with significantly negative consequences for themselves,” said Badat.

She said that cyberbullying could be more detrimental to children than traditional bullying as the attacks could occur 24/7 via different channels, and the bullies were often able to hide their identity via fake accounts.

“This can result in paranoia, fear or depression and increased anxiety; all of which can cripple one’s academic performance, personal relationships and communication with parents and teachers,” she said.

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