Experts raise red flags about online bullying | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Nikhil (name changed), a Class 9 student in a city school, went from a lively, confident and high-ranking boy to an anxious, dull one within a few months. Even as his parents scrambled to find out what caused the sudden change, his cousin found that Nikhil, an active social media user, had deleted all his profiles.
“That’s when I realised something was really wrong. When we discussed it with him, we were shocked to realise he was being bullied by classmates and seniors for the past five months,” Nikhil’s techie-mother said.
According to her, it all started with the boy’s friendship with a girl in his class. The two exchanged messages, which the girl shared with other friends. Soon, the screenshots were everywhere, and students even created an Instagram account mocking Nikhil.
The parents complained to school authorities and even took up the matter with one of the students’ parents. “The issue is sorted out, but Nikhil is still not his usual self. We plan to shift him to a different school,” she said.
Nikhil’s experience is not unique. Ever since education went virtual and children are spending more time on laptops and mobiles, online bullying has increased. With the possibility of online education continuing for months, parents and experts have expressed concern about it.
Look out for signs
Bijal Kapasi, life coach, counsellor and mental health expert, said she has seen several cases of cyberbullying in the past year. Children, confined to four walls of their homes, indulge in it mostly for excitement and a feeling of adventure. Children who bully others face their own psychological issues.
She recently saw a girl in Class 10 who completely shut herself from everyone and stopped speaking to her parents. “After several sessions, she mentioned that she had shared a picture of herself with a boy. He had morphed the photo and was blackmailing her. She was scared to tell her parents as she feared their reaction,” she said.
Bijal said parents must look out for signs that their child is being bullied like withdrawal from usual activities, socialising, low self-esteem, falling grades, anxiety, and restlessness.
Preeti Pranav Jain, potential enhancer and a Neuro-Linguistic Programming practitioner, said parents must avoid pressuring children to open up and change communication methods. “Parents must focus on being more open and accepting, rather than being anxious themselves. Family bonding exercises like watching something together, giving them space to express themselves and even disagreeing with you helps,” she said Bijal said the most important thing for a parent to do is take action — from speaking with parents of the child bullying their ward to approaching the school and counsellors or police, if required. No action is worse for a child, she added.

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Sagar Biswas

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