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More and more cyberbullying

‘Some classmates tricked the girl into sending photos of herself almost naked, and sent them round the classroom,’ says Øyvind Barlaup.

Øyvind Barlaup is going to be a teacher. There was a lot of bullying in the class he was in at school. In order to be a teacher who can both see and put a stop to bullying, he has had to find out more about a type of bullying that didn’t exist when he was at school.

‘We can define cyberbullying as cruel behaviour where you try to offend someone else by using mobile phones, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and so on,’ he says.

30,000 people are bullied regularly in Norway alone

‘How is cyberbullying different from other types of bullying?’

‘One of the main differences is that you can do it anonymously. Before, in a typical situation, bullying would take place in the school playground. Then the victim would always know that the bully is the one who he saw face to face. But in cyberbullying I could for example write something very cruel about you, without you knowing who I am.

Approximately 30,000 children and youths are regularly bullied in Norway. More and more of this is cyberbullying, particularly among girls. Statistics show that 40 per cent of those who have been bullied have contemplated suicide. Barlaup reacts strongly to this.

This number is too high! It just shows how serious this is. And how important it is that we stop it!’

‘Everyone who hates Ove’

There are many types of cyberbullying, but most of it takes place on Facebook or Snapchat.

‘One example is from a school where they made a Facebook group called “Everyone who hates Ove”’, says Barlaup. Pupils wrote lots of comments such as “Today Ove has done this or that”. They even awarded points according to how people treated Ove. So if you pushed him down the stairs you would get 100 points, for example. Another type of cyberbullying takes place on Snapchat. When you send a photo to lots of people, many of them save it, and use it against the person later on. People also take photos of people in embarrassing situations and this can spread very quickly.’

Being excluded from Facebook

Barlaup also speaks of more indirect types of cyberbullying, such as excluding people or isolating them.

‘If a girl in the class is going to have a party, for example, then perhaps everyone apart from one girl is invited. So other people see that she is not popular, and choose not to be friends with her,’ he says.

It can also be apparently innocent Facebook groups that can be used to exclude people.

‘Often people will be invited to a group, such as “Everyone who loves Justin Bieber”. Maybe all of the girls but one are invited to join. Here we’re talking about totally innocent groups, but it’s all about who is or is not invited.’

3 tips to get help

Barlaup knows of three things you can do if you are cyberbullied.

‘Most importantly, you must talk to an adult first. One main problem is that it’s harder for the adults to see that children are being bullied when it is cyberbullying. One time a girl was tricked by her classmates. They pretended to be the love of her life, and got her to send photos of herself scantily clad. They took these to school and sent them round the classroom.

This situation was very difficult for her, and she wasn’t able to tell her dad, because then she’d have to explain why she’d sent photos like that. In certain circumstances it can be almost impossible to tell your parents. This particular girl was able to talk to the school nurse, and got a lot of help from her.’

Two other possibilities that Barlaup highlights are help over the phone or on the internet.

‘Many countries have phone helplines or websites where you can chat to professionals if you have been bullied.’

Outdo one another in showing honour

Barlaup thinks one of the challenges with cyberbullying is that a lot of people do it without even realising that they are bullying. He says that he himself has taken part in cyberbullying without being aware of it.

‘I might see a photo on Instagram or Facebook, and “like” it. But perhaps I don’t know that the person in the photo didn’t know it was taken, and so that person’s private life has been encroached upon. This can be very hurtful for the person,’ he says.

Barlaup thinks we have a responsibility even when bullying doesn’t impact us.

‘I think we all have a responsibility, and in the Bible we’re encouraged to “outdo one another in showing honour”. We should actually compete in making people happy, in honouring each other. This is something I know we can be better at. A psychologist said that for each hurtful comment you get, you need to get ten compliments. Imagine if you’ve heard ten negative comments during the school day, then you need a hundred compliments! I feel that we have a responsibility, firstly to stop cyberbullying and teasing, and secondly I think we should simply try to outdo one another in showing honour, as the Bible says, and not least show respect for each other.’

 

Published with permission from iTro.no