Cyberbullying can be a crime under either NSW or national law when it involves using the internet or a phone in a threatening, harassing or offensive way; to stalk or access accounts without permission; to spread lies or hurt someone’s reputation (defamation); to encourage someone to hurt themselves.

If you think your child may be a cyberbully, it is important to take immediate action and encourage them to take a different, more positive path.

Knowledge equals power

Ask your child whether something happened to make them respond in this manner. At a separate time, individually consider whether anything is happening in the home environment that may have triggered the anti-social behaviour.

Make it personal

Ask your child how they would feel if somebody else was doing this to them or someone they love.

Become a rule-maker

Create the rule that the only internet zones should be public areas of the home, such as the loungeroom or garden – and enforce it. That means taking away their mobile phone, if necessary.

Share your concerns

Flag the issue with your child’s teacher or school principal. Don’t be embarrassed – your child isn’t the only one in the world who is engaging in cyberbullying.

Enforce the authority element

Explain that their actions are illegal and could get them in trouble with the police, and that if that happens you may not be able to help them.

Seek additional guidance

If you or your child need extra help in dealing with this or other matters, book an appointment with one of Interrelate’s highly skilled practitioners on 1300 i relate (1300 473 528).