Tips and materials from klicksafeCyberbullying - recognize and act in time

Around 17% of children and young people in Germany have already experienced cyberbullying. klicksafe provides information on how parents and educators can support those affected and what preventive measures can help.

Almost one in five students (16.7 percent) between the ages of eight and 21 has already been a victim of cyberbullying. This is the result of the study "Cyberlife IV - Cyberbullying among school students" by the Alliance against Cyberbullying. When young people are affected by bullying, it can be assumed that this takes place both analog (bullying) and digital (cyberbullying), because the analog and digital worlds of children and young people overlap seamlessly and must therefore be considered together. The consequences for those affected are severe. Declines in performance, violent fantasies, withdrawal, depression, suicidal thoughts and psychosomatic reactions show the great stress on those affected. Unlike analog bullying, cyberbullying can quickly reach large groups of people and has a lasting effect because the network does not forget. In particularly bad cases, those affected by cyberbullying are under stress around the clock. Their own four walls offer no retreat from attacks that reach them via messenger chats or social media networks. We have summarized further differences and special features for you in our cyberbullying topic area.

How can you prevent cyberbullying?

Unfortunately, there is no complete protection against cyberbullying. You can try to prevent it as best as possible with preventive measures. Cyberbullying often takes place in a school context. It is therefore important that schools address cyberbullying in the classroom and know how to react quickly and correctly when the occasion arises. The topic area of cyberbullying is closely linked to other topics and competencies that also need to be discussed: Data protection and data economy, rules on digital communication (class chats) and social skills such as empathy, tolerance and respect.

Parents should closely accompany their children's online activities and continuously keep up with technical developments and trends.

To best prevent cyberbullying, you should learn about possible warning signs and ways to prevent it. This knowledge should then be passed on to children. A regular exchange about media experiences in the family and at school or discussions with other parents are also useful.

Mutually agreed rules are very important for safe media use. This way, children know what is allowed and what to watch out for when using the Internet. A contract between parents and children (see ) can help here.

Younger Internet users should also respect not only their own rights, but also the rights of others. This includes that personal information, pictures or films may not be disseminated without the permission of the persons depicted ("right to one's own image").

How to support victims of cyberbullying?

If a case of cyberbullying becomes known, the first thing to do is to help the person concerned. Only then should you consider what exactly the consequences are for the perpetrator and, if applicable, for others involved. Under no circumstances should you blame the person concerned for the bullying. You can, of course, consider together with the person concerned whether there would have been ways to avoid a bullying attack. However, these questions should only be discussed once enough time has passed and the person affected has been able to build up enough distance from the experience.

Victims of bullying and their relatives often find it difficult not to defend themselves directly. However, they should not respond immediately to the insulting content. Otherwise, there is a risk that the insults will continue to build up. It is important to remain calm before planning the next steps.

If the content is sent directly to the victim or is freely accessible on the Internet, the cyberbullying incidents should be documented. This can be done, for example, by taking screenshots or saving messages. This way, the bullying can be proven later.

On smartphones, in social networks, messenger apps or email programs, you can specifically block or report numbers or contacts. Insults, hate posts, and nasty pictures can also often be reported directly to the services where they appear.

There is a danger that parents will protect their child and that the fronts will harden permanently. This can make a solution difficult or impossible. It is better to involve a less emotionally involved person as a mediator and to obtain sufficient information in advance.

In serious cases, it is advisable to involve the police and file a complaint. It also helps to know the legal situation when taking targeted action. We have compiled information in our cyberbullying section.

What to do if the child is a perpetrator?

If parents notice that their child is actively involved in bullying or cyberbullying, they should react immediately and with a cool head. The following tips can help parents and educators.

Try to find out the motivations for the bullying. Why did the child bully online? Has he or she already been affected by bullying? Is he or she under pressure to participate in the bullying? In some cases, perpetrators of cyberbullying initially assume that they didn't mean anything by it or that it was just a joke. It can help to talk about the specifics of digital communication. It must be clear to the child that there is always a person with real feelings at the other end.

Make it clear to the child what he or she is doing with his or her behavior. It helps to imagine how one would react to such actions (change of perspective). There must be an understanding that one's own actions have caused suffering in another person.

Ask the child clearly and unambiguously to stop the cyberbullying immediately. In a second step, consider together how the situation that has arisen can be ended and resolved. To whom should an apology be made and in what form? Which posts can be deleted, which pictures withdrawn? How can teachers be spoken to?

Materials for parents, educators and young people

The tips on this page are intended only as initial information and for quick help. In our materials and in our topic area cyberbullying you will find more comprehensive information as well as further tips and assistance.

Support services for children and parents | The children's and young people 's hotline of the "Nummer gegen Kummer" (number against sorrow) can be reached at 116111 from Monday to Saturday from 2 - 8 pm. The calls are free of charge and anonymous. Online counseling by mail is available around the clock. Counseling via chat is available on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2 - 6 pm. The parent telephone can be reached Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays until 7 p.m. at the toll-free number 0800 - 1110550. | Young people can find help with Internet-related questions or problems on the JUUUPORT Internet platform. What makes JUUUPORT special is that the help comes from other young people who have been trained as scouts for this purpose. | On the websites of the Bundeskonferenz für Erziehungsberatung e. V. (bke), young people between the ages of 14 and 21 and parents can find free and anonymous advice on parenting issues or problems.