Parental involvement in preventing and responding to cyberbullying

Parental involvement in preventing and responding to cyberbullying

Elly Robinson

CFCA Paper No. 4 — May 2012
Parental involvement in preventing and responding to cyberbullying

This paper outlines definitions and statistics related to cyberbullying, differences between cyberbullying and offline bullying, and parents' roles and involvement in preventing and responding to cyberbullying incidents. The aim of the paper is to inform practitioners and other professionals of ways to help parents clarify their roles, and provide them with the tools to help their teenage children engage in responsible online behaviour.

Key messages

There is no commonly used definition of cyberbullying, but the characteristics of a power differential, repetition of behaviour, reasons for bullying and intent to harm are all similar to traditional "offline" bullying.

Cyberbullying is more likely to occur outside of school hours, but the behaviours often carry over from home to school, and vice versa.

It is unclear whether cyberbullying is more or less harmful than "offline" bullying. The literature indicates that some young people may underplay or deny the harm, or shrug it off, but others experienced decreases in mental health.

Parents play a critical role in preventing and responding to cyberbullying. Monitoring Internet use and communicating with teenage children are important strategies.

Efforts to encourage cybersafety need to find a balance between monitoring behaviours and allowing young people to independently and age-appropriately negotiate their own boundaries.

The relationship between parents and schools is increasingly important in addressing cyberbullying and responding to incidents. Parents can be encouraged to familiarise themselves with school policy and cybersafety education initiatives, including responsible use policies.

The schools that are most effective in reducing cyberbullying have excellent ongoing relationships with families and parents and young people are actively involved in developing policy.

Online bullying is a new form of an old problem rather than a product of the technology itself.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Elly Robinson is Manager of the Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) information exchange at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The author would like to thank Cara Webber (Australian Communications and Media Authority), Jodie Lodge (AIFS) and Sharnee Moore (AIFS) for their helpful feedback and comments on earlier drafts of the paper.

Publication details

CFCA Paper
No. 4
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, May 2012.
11 pp.
ISSN: 
2200-4106
ISBN: 
978-1-921414-90-9

Publication meta

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