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What is the greatest act of courage?

Everyone knows the definition of courage. But what is it that demands courage from us every single day?


The greatest courage is to educate yourself

Bullying affects everyone – school children, teachers, parents.

Here are some materials which will offer advice on how to recognize, prevent, and stop cyberbullying.


Student

School children

How to safely browse online?
The sense of reality often tends to fail when we’re surfing online. It is easy to get lost in the cyber world and forget that it is just as real as everything else in our lives. But rules of conduct and expectations on how people should behave are the same online and in the real world. There are many things you can do yourself to increase your online safety.
  • Do to others as you would have them do to you. Bullying other people online is a malicious act which affects both the bully and the bullied. Pranks can also turn bad, and it might be hard to stop a prank once it has spread across the Internet.
  • Don’t let your friends influence your decisions and principles. When you surf online together with your friends, don’t do things you wouldn’t do alone or in the public.
  • When you see something disturbing, for example hate speech or call for violence, talk to your parents/guardians, teachers, or school psychologist.
  • Be careful with your personal data. You wouldn’t be revealing your full name, age, home address, phone number, or other personal information to a stranger whom you met while walking down the street, right? A stranger is a stranger, whether online or in real life. Also, keep in mind that a stranger might not be who they claim to be.
  • Consider your own and your family’s safety when posting or sharing information. The information you share about yourself can often be associated with the rest of your family, and thus posts about family vacation, as well as revealing your home address, phone number or other personal information might trigger interest in people with bad intentions.
  • Keep in mind that there is no such thing as absolute Internet anonymity. Even if you don’t use your real name of you’ve deleted old photos, videos, or comments, it is possible to find out what device you have previously used or use currently for surfing online. Also, capturing screenshots is very easy, and thus make sure not to post anything you don’t want to go public.
  • Protect yourself and your devices online. Internet in full of malware that can cause havoc in your devices or use them to spread viruses. It is worth knowing that sometimes you can catch a virus from a website you use daily and which you think is safe. Using antivirus software in your phone and PC is the best protection against viruses. Protecting your devices doesn’t have to cost anything - many antiviruses are free. However, be careful installing any kind of software, including antiviruses - some viruses mask themselves as antiviruses.
  • Be careful when sharing files, opening letters/attachments and downloading files – you may end up with a virus, malware, or content which is not age-appropriate or downright illegal. This may happen even when your antivirus is up and running.
  • Find a friend or a trustworthy person with whom you can share your problems. Even grown-ups sometimes need to ask advice and help from other people they trust. Know that there is a solution to every problem – it is likely that other people have had similar issues and together you will certainly find a solution faster. However, make sure to pick a person you know personally, because online friends and acquaintances might not be who they say they are or they might not be out for your best interests.
  • Make sure you visit only trustworthy websites. There are many suspicious websites with unreliable content or which spread malware and viruses.
  • Don’t believe everything you see, read or hear. There is a lot of useful information online, but there’s also a huge amount of incorrect or false information. Check the sources and don’t be afraid to ask advice from your parents or other family members you trust.
  • Obey the law when surfing online – the law is the same in the real world and cyberspace. By downloading movies, videos, music and other copyrighted material you are actually breaking the law. Also, pirated content might include malware.
  • Use strong passwords – make sure to include uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Do not use combinations that can be easily guessed – for example, many people know your birthday. Do not use the same password for multiple accounts, because if one account is hacked you may lose control over your virtual identity. Do not share your passwords with anyone, even with your closest friends and family members. The more people know your passwords, the more likely they will leak.
  • Names that are provocative or have sexual connotations might attract people whom you would rather avoid. Keep in mind that people with malicious intentions might use your images of images of you without your consent.
  • Provocative behavior or engaging in conversations with sexual overtone might attract molesters. Don’t try to outsmart them – unlike you, they are experts in child molestation. eksperdid.
  • Child molestation by an adult is a crime. So is a proposal or an agreement made by an adult to meet with a minor for the purpose of sex. You should report this to your parents, and if necessary, the police.
  • If you encounter a person who uses sexual overtone when talking to you, you should end the conversation by logging off the website, or by blocking the person. Also, report this to your parent or some other adult, and if possible, the website’s moderators. If necessary, contact the police via email: murelink@pol.ee. Free Child Helpline 116 111 is also open 24/7.
  • Be careful if you decide to meet your online acquaintance in person. The person might not have the best of intentions. However, if you do decide to meet, do this in public, bring a friend, a well charged phone, and tell you parents. Also, make sure you can leave quickly, if necessary.
About bullying and cyberbullying - honestly and openly.
See also http://www.kiusamisvaba.ee (In Estonian)
Difference of opinion, disputes, and sometimes even conflicts are part of human relations. Diversity of opinions, including opposite opinions, are a natural part of human life, and that is true for people of all ages. But at what point will difference of opinion become bullying? School bullying is malicious, repetitive, and in many cases there is unequal balance of power (e.g. a group bullying one person). Cyberbullying is a form of school bullying by means of electronic technology.
  • Do to others as you would have them do to you, both in the real world and in cyberspace. A simple prank might turn into a nightmare for both the bully and the bullied. Also, keep in mind that once the post is published, it may go viral very quickly, and it might be impossible to stop it.
  • Think about whether your online self reflects who you really are. Do you want to be remembered as a bully whose words and actions have actually hurt someone?
  • All conflicts or arguments cannot be considered as bullying. However, changing the subject on purpose and using condescending tricks to win arguments, create embarrassing situations or influence friendships is usually stressful for all parties. Thus, if there is a motive to hurt the other party with words or something else, then this constitutes as bullying. The greatest courage is not to follow your friends by doing things you wouldn’t do alone or in the public. Stand by your principles, and if necessary, don’t be a bystander when you see something that crosses the boundaries of politeness.
  • Don’t be a bystander when you see someone bullied at school or online. If you don’t do anything to intervene, you might unwillingly help to normalize the behavior. Keep in mind that you can do a lot of good by helping the bullied – support, comfort, and help means a lot more to the victim than you might imagine. It is quite understandable than taking a stand might seem scary – if you need advice or encouragement talk to someone you trust.

How to recognize cyberbullying?
  • Sending threatening or mean letters, text messages, etc. more than once.
  • Scamming personal information, pictures/videos and spreading them across the Internet without consent.
  • Posing as someone else online, breaching trust (e.g. breaking in someone’s email account, using false identity, spreading false information via emails and text messages, and other damaging and humiliating actions).
  • Creating an online space (e.g. website, chatroom) or content to make fun of classmates, or to condescend them, or to fuel hate and animosity.
  • If above mentioned actions involve several bullies and their actions are coordinated and deliberate.
Where can I find additional information and help?
Share your problems with a trustworthy person (e.g. parent/guardian, sister, brother, friend, classmate, or simply a person you trust). Do not be alone with your problem. Talk to your parents if someone bullies you or you see someone else being bullied, and together try to find a solution. Involve people who work at school (e.g. form teacher, school psychologist, social worker, principal). Although it is difficult to talk about bullying, many people have experienced it and can provide useful advice.
  • If necessary, contact the website’s staff – they can help with removing content or blocking bullies.
  • Call the free Child Helpline 116 111 (the line is open 24/7) or send an email to info@lasteabi.ee (the reply is sent as soon as possible, but not later than in five business days).
  • Go to the app store and download the free Lasteabi app (search for „lasteabi“). The app enables chatting, calling, and sending emails (anonymously or under your real name). The app is available for both Android and Apple devices.
Parent

Parents

General online safety recommendations
  • Thoughtful and kind behavior should be practiced both in real life and online. Encourage your child to behave online in the same polite way as they do at home, kindergarten, or school. Bring the subject up even when there are no issues present – this will help you to understand your child’s thought patterns, and it opens a possibility to discuss about how to be a good person in the digital world.
  • Explain your child that online anonymity is deceptive - every step leaves a trace on the Internet. Deleting a post or picture does not ensure that the content is erased, because it takes only a second to take a screenshot and it is technically possible to restore a certain amount of data after it has been deleted.
  • Be an example for your children. Your child mimics your behavior, both in real life and online. So think about how you talk to other people, how you express your opinions, and how much time you spend online and for what purpose.
  • Encourage your child to express their thoughts and feelings in a logical way and consider the feelings of other people. Although toddlers and preschoolers are not the most skilled in oral communication, they are capable of imagining other people’s feelings and thoughts. Thus, it is possible to teach children, including school children, empathy, and this in turn decreases chances of the child becoming a bully because they understand that it might hurt others physically or emotionally.
  • Make agreements with your child on rules for using the Internet and smart devices, and make sure that both of you follow those rules. The rules should be appropriate for the child’s age and abilities – the rules should be changed as they grow, and their skillset and knowledge increases and schoolwork becomes more complex.
  • Stay up to date with the digital world. It will help you to understand the risks and possibilities that come from using the Internet and smart devices. For example, you can join social networks, use different apps and other online spaces. By testing apps and sites your family members, friends, relatives, or acquaintances visit you will be able to understand why your child enjoys social networks, apps, or other online platforms.
  • Explore online together with your children. Ask about what they’re doing online, visit the same websites and social networks, play games they like, and discuss why they like certain platforms.
  • Suggest websites to visit. There a many age-appropriate and educational websites with plenty of options for playing and learning something new.
  • Stay connected with your child on social networks, but respect their privacy. This way the child will learn how to be independent, and at the same time it will prevent situations where they feel they need to hide something from their parents. Talk about how they want to be connected with you and other family members on social networks, and what kind of information, including photos and videos, is OK to share online. Also, consider your child’s interests when uploading photos or videos and always ask permission when you want to post something about them.
  • Try to understand before you judge. Children have less life experience, but they should now that whatever happens, they can talk about anything with their parents or others they trust. Even if you don’t have all the answers right away, you can find solutions or ask for help from specialists.
  • Keep in mind that smart devices and the Internet plays an important role in our daily lives, but nothing can replace a parent. If you see or hear something that could refer to bullying or might put children’s safety at risk, don’t be an anonymous bystander.
  • Keep in mind that it is very difficult to parent older children and teenagers by using do’s and don’ts, but it is possible to shape the relationship between teenagers and parents and create a mutually respectful environment. Teenagers seek independence and by doing so the often lose balance in their relationships, which in turn creates some difficulties for parents. When you talk about cyber safety and other issues with a teenager, keep in mind that listening to them, accepting their opinions and trusting them often works better that setting up rigid rules. The teenager can then see that they are an equal member of the family and that their environment is safe and trusting.

Where to find additional information and help?

Where to find additional information and help?

My child is being bullied
Bullying can have various consequences. Unfortunately there are no universal signs that someone is being bullied, because changes in behavior might also reflect other stressful events. However, changes in behavior are likely to point to difficulties at school. Cyberbullying is the most recent form of bullying, and the Internet and smart devices have made bullying very easy. Online bullying is also more anonymous because direct physical contact is no longer necessary. However, it is useful to keep in mind that cyberbullying is often a form of school bullying, and one cannot exist without the other. If the child is bullied at school, it is very likely that cyberbullying is also present.
Keep an eye out for the following tell-tale signs that someone is being bullied.

If a child, compared to their previous behavior...
  • is afraid to go to school or avoids the familiar route to school (e.g. doesn’t want to use the school bus or a certain street, or asks parents to drop them off more often than usual);
  • does not want to go to school, claims to be sick before school, misses classes without a good reason;
  • expresses tension, anxiety, stress, unusual introversion or uncertainty;
  • belongings are lost, broken, or damaged;
  • asks for money more often than usual;
  • comes home with damaged clothes, or with scratched/bruised skin;
  • is angry, withdrawn, and at the same time easily agitated;
  • spends more time alone, does not talk to peers;
  • is more agitated when using smart devices and the Internet;

What can I do as a parent?
  • Encourage your child to express their thoughts and feelings. Because bullying is emotionally a difficult topic to deal with, keep in mind that the child might not be ready to talk about it right away, or they might deny the problem altogether.
  • Let the child know that you are on their side. However, keep in mind that defeating bullying might take time and the child will keep needing emotional support after the problem has been eliminated. Because emotional wounds heal slowly, the child will need support and conformation that parents are on their side and that they are in no way responsible for being bullied.
  • Talk about what the child itself can do to stop the bullying. Bullies often act on the premise that the victim reacts to bullying in a certain way: starts crying, gets confused or agitated, etc. Thus, the victim could try behaving differently: walk away from the situation or ignore the bully.
  • Although cyberbullying may include different activities (including bullying behind the victim’s back), the purpose of online bullying is often to embarrass the victim and make them react in a humiliating way. Thus, the victim should not react to provocations.
  • If necessary, contact the website administrator, who can help with removing abusive or insulting content and find out who has posted it. It would be good to save the content or take screenshots in case more serious steps have to be taken. In extreme cases of bullying, contact the law enforcement agency.
  • Discuss situations which encourage bullying, both in real life and online, and what can be done to avoid or alleviate these situations. For example, the child should avoid eating alone in the school cafeteria because being a part of a group increases safety of an individual. Also, if possible, money and valuables should be left home. Talk about what kind of information (including pictures and videos) the child chooses to post on social networks, and how to react (or not to react) in disturbing situations. Tell your child not to open messages and letters sent from an unfamiliar source or by bullies.
  • If the person who sent the message goes to school with your child, contact the school (e.g. form teacher). If the bullying continues, consider changing your child’s email address and/or phone number. Additionally, you should create filters for incoming emails to eliminate senders you consider unwanted.
  • If necessary, save and register messages/letters send by bullies. This will become handy if additional steps have to be taken to stop the bullying.
  • Encourage your child to engage in hobbies or other after-school activities. It gives them positive energy, and also increases the chances of finding friends outside school. Thus, these activities should create a possibility to meet children of the same age. Talk about how to make and keep friends.
  • Encourage your child to invite friends home. It is good to start with one friend or a smaller group, because it is easier to practice social skills in a smaller setting and in a familiar and secure space. The parent can observe their child with their friends and later talk about how to keep friendships. However, keep in mind that children should feel independent and have some time on their own.
  • Think about activities that could increase your child’s self-confidence through positive feedback and reflection from other people (e.g. feedback from the child’s coach).

Where to find additional information and help?

Where to find additional information and help?

My child is a bully
Thinking of your child as a bully can be shocking. You might experience anger, sadness, confusion, guilt, or denial. It is perfectly understandable to have those feelings, but it would be good take a moment to pause, consider, and collect yourself before reacting. Usually we think of bullies as aggressive or disturbed children. But the truth is that most bullies are ordinary children from ordinary families.
  • First, find out what has happened and find out whether the problem is indeed bullying, or perhaps a misunderstanding or disagreement. Sometimes intervention is necessary also in case of a disagreement, especially when it’s a bigger argument between children. Keep in mind that when you ask your child about the event, never accuse, criticize or judge them.
  • Find out why and how your child has become a bully and what is their role in bullying incidents. Keep in mind that children may often deny or decrease their involvement.
  • Be very clear that you disapprove bullying and help your child to understand the difference between a game and bullying. Explain how bullying affects the victim – describe how scary, lonely, and hurtful it is to be bullied. Tell the child that the bullying must stop because otherwise the situation can become worse for the both the victim and bullies.
  • Condemn the act of bullying but not your child. Show that you disapprove bullying and that you support your child and want to help them. Assure your child that you are ready to support them if the stop bullying.
  • Think about whether you child needs more adult supervision and guidance. If necessary, set up clear rules about hobbies and going out, and keep yourself informed about where and with whom your child spends time away from you.
  • Teach your child to be polite, tolerate, and respectful towards others. Explain that diversity is enriching, not dangerous, and that it is certainly not a reason to make fun of someone. Assure your child that you believe in them, that you know that they can change their behavior, and that you believe that their intention is not to hurt others.
  • Acknowledge your child for not participating in bullying and also for small steps they take to stop the bullying. Change can be achieved by developing social skills, and finding new hobbies or friends who are against bullying. Together with your child, try to come up with ideas on how to get along better with other children and gain positive attention in a group.
  • If you have to punish your child, be fair. The punishment cannot be physical, because paradoxically it can justify bullying and thereby encourage it. It is important to assure your child that you accept and love them, but also let them know that you don’t accept bullying.

Where to find additional information and help?

Where to find additional information and help?

Teacher

Teachers

About bullying and its effect on educational performance
School bullying is an aggressive, repetitive behavior, whereby a child is hurt physically or emotionally. On average about one fifth of school children experience bullying during a school year (the number varies depending on school, grade level, and age). Sometimes the aggression is expressed by ignoring a bullied child collectively which results in deliberately excluding them outside group activities, as well as emphasizing it in conversations.

Although most of school children are never bullied, it does affect the whole class. Those who witness bullying experience emotional stress, which in turn means that a small minority can affect educational performance of majority of the children.
  • School bullying is malicious, repetitive, and in many cases there is unequal balance of power (e.g. a group bullying one person). Cyberbullying is a form of school bullying by means of electronic technology.
  • In terms of educational experience, this means that a minority of children can affect educational experience of the majority. Sometimes it is related to the fact that bullying continues during class (e.g. by passing on notes, or using smart devices); or children’s concentration is affected by emotional stress. Unhealthy learning environment may thereby affect educational performance and shape unfavorable school environment.
  • As technology has advanced and become more accessible, bullying has moved online. Because cyberbullying might not be visible to everyone (the space where bullying takes place is accessible only to a certain group), it is difficult for teachers to intervene directly, but it is possible to talk about bullying and cyberbullying within the framework of each subject, because all subjects are related to the “real life” in one way or another.
  • It is possible to increase the awareness of children and young people about safe online behavior in classes or during events where the topic of online security is relevant (e.g. form teacher’s class, computer class, health education). The main idea is that online communication is no different from real-life communication – people should always be polite to each other and consider possible consequences of their actions.
Where can I find additional information and help?
  • Teaching materials: http://www.targaltinternetis.ee/en/for-teachers/
  • You can call the free Child Helpline at 116 111 to report children who need help. The information will be forwarded to specialists. The service also offers first-line social counselling for children, and also for adults in subjects related to children. You can also use the Lasteabi app to contact the Child Helpline (go to the Google Play or Appstore and search for „lasteabi“). The app enables chatting, calling, and sending emails.
  • The “Targalt Internetis” website http://www.targaltinternetis.ee/en/ provides advice and teaching materials for increasing online security.
  • Online police at https://www2.politsei.ee/et/nouanded/veebikonstaabel/ can help with more complicated cases.

Where can I get help?

Ask for advice and help from Web constables

Studies

Scheme
  • More than a quarter of school children have experienced cyber bullying, and one in six children admit to have bullied others online.
  • 20% of school children in Estonia have recently experienced bullying at school. School bullying is often related to cyber bullying because school bullying can also take place online: Read more:
  • According to the “2016 Smartly on the Web” survey almost half of school children start using the Internet between the ages 7 and 9, i.e. at the time when they start school. Almost a third of children go online even earlier – between ages 4 and 6.
  • The Internet is used on all devices - desktops, laptops, cellphones, and tablets. Cellphone is currently the most popular device for online access.
  • The most popular websites are YouTube (87.3%), Facebook (65.1%), Instagram (62.2%), and Snapchat (54.8%). Among the Russian-speaking children Vkontake (44%) is widely used as well. 25% of children use Twitter. WhatsApp and Odnoklassniki are slightly less popular.
  • About one fifth of school children’s social network profiles are public, which means that the profile’s content is open to everyone. A little over 70% of children keep their profile private (content is shown only to friends) or half-private (content is shown to friends and friends of friends).
  • On a positive side, most show publicly only their first name (85%), last name (67%), and profile photo. Children are much more careful when showing their home address and other sensitive information. However, more than a third have revealed where they go to school.
  • Almost 70% of children have googled themselves and a quarter of them are not happy with their digital footprint.
  • Although most of the students don’t share their passwords, around a third have done it by giving their password to friends, acquaintances, and teachers.
  • A little more than a quarter of school children know that the same laws and rights apply both online and in real life. About a third of children think that real-life rules don’t apply to cyberspace, because cyber world is not real, it does not reflect the reality, and it is anonymous. 40% of students did not have a firm opinion in this question.
  • A little over 40% of school children admit that they or someone they know have encountered online security issues.
  • More than 40% of school children have seen sexual and/or violent content online, and almost as many have met someone they have met online in person.
  • According to school children, about a third of parents know only a little or nothing at all about their children’s online activities.

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The greatest courage is to talk

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