We at Cairo English School know students can achieve their full potential only when they feel safe, secure, and supported. As a result, one of the cornerstones of our school's policies is a commitment to preventing and addressing bullying behaviours.
It has come to our attention in recent days that there have been separate instances in which some of our students have been the object of cyberbullying. Some of these incidents involve emotional bullying conducted anonymously through Internet blogging and/or social networking websites, such as Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube, and may involve several students acting together. We have initiated investigations into these reports, and these will be completed shortly. These investigations will be aggressive and complete, and the consequences will be stern. These behaviours cannot and will not be tolerated.
The consequences that can be suffered by both the victims of bullying and those who have inflicted distress on their peers have been well documented in the media. We are clear that very few students, if any, who engage in these behaviours are fully aware of the horrible short-term and long-term scars of students targeted by bullying behaviour.
As you know, cyberbullying occurs off school grounds and outside of school hours, and to some degree our hands are tied in dealing with those situations, but we still want to be part of the solution. As school staff, we understand the importance of our partnership with you.
We urge all parents to take time to speak about this very important issue with your children so they can be clear that bullying can have devastating consequences to both its perpetrators and victims. Please discuss what it means to be a bystander, and empower them to take a stand when witnessing cruel behaviours.
Advice for Parents on Social networking
Young people routinely access social media and much of their social lives are online. This can create a false sense of security; for example, chatting online feels different from chatting face to face. It can be easier to say and reveal things that wouldn't be said face to face; be cruel, aggressive or flirtatious. It is important for young people to remember that there are offline consequences to online behaviour.
Comments intended to be funny can often be misinterpreted online whereas if said face to face they could be acceptable as facial expressions, body language, tone of voice and context all help to ensure that comments are taken the right way. This is not the case online.
We also know that increasingly younger and younger children are signing up to social network sites and may not have the maturity to handle their online identity in a safe and responsible way. Social networking can increase existing social pressures and reinforce a sense of isolation; for instance, by people purposefully not liking a young person's status update or photo so they seem unpopular, or by excluding them from group chats. Online bullying often involves a large audience and this increases the pressure.
Parents need to understand the way young people communicate with others, and the potential risks. Asking their child simply not to use technology is not a realistic way to prevent or react to cyberbullying. If we help our children to understand the nuances of using social media, then our children begin to use it more thoughtfully.
More information and advice can be found on the following websites.
Advice for children
The following are some things that parents may wish to consider teaching their children about using the internet safely:
Make sure you use the privacy settings.
Always respect others – be careful what you say online it could be misinterpreted.
Be careful what pictures or videos you upload. Once a picture is shared online it cannot be taken back.
Only add people you know and trust to friends/followers lists online.
When talking to strangers, keep your personal information safe and location hidden. Eg. On gaming websites
Treat your password like your toothbrush – keep it to yourself and change it regularly.
Block the bully – learn how to block or report someone who is behaving badly.
Do not retaliate or reply to offending e-mails, text messages or online conversations.
Save the evidence. Always keep a copy of offending e-mails, text messages or a screen grab of online conversations and pass to a parent or a teacher.
Make sure you tell an adult you trust, for example, a parent or a teacher.
Most social media services and other sites have a button you can click on to report bullying. Doing this can prevent a bully from targeting you and others in the future. Many services take bullying seriously and will either warn the individual or eliminate his or her account.
While you are on your mobile phone make sure you also pay attention to your surroundings.
I hope you have found the information useful to facilitate conversations that will benefit all of our children.