POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 125 ISPs and cell phone service providers can respond to reports of cyber bullying over their networks, or help clients track down the appropriate service provider to respond to. Taking action on cyber bullying Cyber bullying is everyone's business and the best response is a pro-active or preventative one. What parents can do • Get involved and be aware: * Learn everything you can about the Internet and what your kids are doing online. Talk to them about the places they go online and the activities that they are involved in. Be aware of what your kids are posting on Web sites, including their own personal home pages. * Encourage your kids to come to you if anybody says or does something online that makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. Stay calm and keep the lines of communication and trust open. If you "freak out" your kids won't turn to you for help when they need it. • Encourage kids to develop their own moral code so they will choose to behave ethically online: * Talk to your kids about responsible Internet use. * Teach them to never post or say anything on the Internet that they wouldn't want the whole world - including you - to read. * Create an online agreement or contract for computer use, with your kids' input. Make sure your agreement contains clear rules about ethical online behaviour. MNet's research shows that in homes where parents have clear rules against certain kinds of activities, young people are much less likely to engage in them. • Take action if your child is being bullied online: * Watch out for signs that your child is being bullied online - a reluctance to use the computer or go to school may be an indication. * If the bully is a student at your child's school, meet with school officials and ask for help in resolving the situation. * Report any incident of online harassment and physical threats to your local police and your Internet Service Provider (ISP). * If your child is bullied through a cell phone, report the problem to your phone service provider. If it's a persistent problem, you can change the phone number. What schools can do • Integrate curriculum-based anti-bullying programs into classrooms. • Educate teachers, students and parents about the seriousness of cyber bullying. • Change the school or board's bullying policy to include harassment perpetrated with mobile and Internet technology. There should be serious consequences for anyone who doesn't follow the guidelines. • Update the school or board's computer Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) to specifically prohibit using the Internet for bullying. What kids can do Because most incidents of bullying occur off adults' radar screens, it's important that young people learn to protect themselves online and respond to cyber bullying among peers when they encounter it. Guidelines for children and teens: • Guard your contact information. Don't give people you don't know your cell phone number, instant messaging name or e-mail address. • If you are being harassed online, take the following actions immediately: * Tell an adult you trust - a teacher, parent, older sibling or grandparent. * If you are being harassed, leave the area or stop the activity (i.e. chat room, news group, online gaming area, instant messaging, etc.). * If you are being bullied through e-mail or instant messaging, block the sender's messages. Never reply to harassing messages. * Save any harassing messages and forward them to your Internet Service Provider (i.e. Hotmail or Yahoo). Most service providers have appropriate use policies that restrict users from harassing others over the Internet - and that includes kids! * If the bullying includes physical threats, tell the police as well. • Take a stand against cyber bullying with your peers. Speak out whenever you see someone being mean to another person online. Most kids respond better to criticism from their peers than to disapproval from adults. (...Challenging Cyber Bullying continued)