Parents urged to watch out for cyberbullying Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

With the new school year well underway, parents are being urged to keep a sharp lookout for cyberbullying among children.

Cyberbullying, which is a growing problem around the world, can happen on social media, messaging and gaming platforms as well as through other digital avenues. The Internet’s anonymous nature attracts bullies with a desire to intimidate, shame, and anger their targets.

Head of the Jamaica Cyber Incident Response Team (JaCIRT), Lieutenant Colonel (Lt. Col.) Godphey Sterling, in a release, said that parents can report incidents of cyberbullying to schools.

“Nowadays, many school districts have online reporting options for cyberbullying where you can make an anonymous complaint,” he pointed out.

He said that parents can also reach out to JaCIRT for assistance and if necessary, contact the nearest police station or the Communication Forensics and Cybercrime Division (CFCD) of the JCF’s Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Branch (C-TOC).

Lt. Col. Sterling noted that in some circumstances ignoring the bully could be a good option.

“Bullies commonly thrive on the reaction of their victims. Responding with hostility often provokes [them]. If you or your child receives unwanted email messages, consider blocking the sender or even changing your email address. The problem may stop, [but] if you continue to get messages at the new account, you may have a compelling case for legal action,” he said.

The JaCIRT head also advised parents to be mindful of the information they share online.

“Be careful who can access contact information or details about your children’s interests or habits. Limiting the information about them online may [reduce] their risk of becoming a victim,” he said.

Online harassment can affect victims mentally, emotionally, and physically. However, unlike face-to-face bullying, cyberbullying leaves a digital footprint, which can help to stop the abuse and identify the perpetrator. It is for this reason that Lt. Col. Sterling is advising parents and victims to document the offence in both electronic and print formats.

JaCIRT is a Division under the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, established to deliver on the mandate outlined in the National Cybersecurity Strategy of 2015, to address matters regarding cyberthreats and provide appropriate responses.