12,000 cries for help, what can insurers do?

Alison Colver considers the rise in instances of cyber-bullying and highlights how insurers can play their part in supporting victims

"Research cited by the NSPCC found that in 2016, Childline held over 12,000 counselling sessions with children who were concerned about an online issue, that’s 12,000 children who were scared, upset, angry or hurt by something they’d encountered online.

Cyberbullying has become a significant concern amongst children’s charities, schools and especially families over the recent years as horrific stories of revenge porn, harassment, stalking and trolling hit the news.  As a parent, the idea that my child could be preyed on by bullies in such a silent and insidious way is terrifying, and for that reason I’ve been careful to educate my kids on the dangers of the internet, including what they should do if they are harassed or bullied online.

But to a degree, no matter how well you educate your children, how vigilant you are over their computer use and how closely you monitor their behaviours for signs of trouble, children, and especially teenagers are incredibly adept at hiding things from their parents. Not wishing to scare anyone, but it’s a fact that young people on the cusp of adulthood pride themselves on their independence and their ability to cope with what life throws at them, indeed I recently saw a statistic which suggested that only 6% of parents of adolescents are even aware of the scope and intensity involved with cyberbullying.  

I think one of the reasons why parents aren’t aware of the scope of cyberbullying is that it just didn’t exist when we were teenagers, if someone was bullying us a quick playground scrap or word between parents would have sorted the matter out, but for kids today, their tormentor can access them any time day or night through their smartphone, and it’s not as simple as merely turning their phone or computer off. Rightly or wrongly our kids are heavily reliant on their phones as a normal part of their daily life and being terrorised in this matter has a profound effect on their mental health.

Dealing with cyberbullying is a delicate and extremely sensitive matter but there are a few steps you can take to ensure that your children know where to turn if they are being victimised online:

  • Take time to review privacy settings for social media sites and discuss the safest options with your child
  • Get to grips with the language teens are using, it sounds like a foreign language but sites such as noslang.com can help you understand what they’re saying and identify potentially worrying acronyms
  • Should your children become victims, save a copy of all threatening or offensive communications so you have evidence for future reference
  • Check with your children’s school whether they provide cyber bullying guidance or visit https://www.cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk/education/schools
  • Encourage your teenager not to respond to messages, this can often stop things escalating

(Find more advice on dealing with cyberbullying at www.relate.org.uk)

It’s a sad reality that cyber bullying is all too common in today’s connected world and experiencing cyber crime makes teenagers feel like they are facing an invisible attacker.  They may feel angry, fearful and under siege in their own home, even if they are computer literate.    Taking steps to protect your teenagers against it happening is vital but so is ensuring teenagers have support, should an incident occur.  To address this, as part of our newly refreshed Executive Plus policy, we’ve included a Cyber Home package which provides counselling support for cyber-bullying victims. While we all hope this will never happen to our family, social media is a fact of life for today’s children and this extra cover offers the peace of mind of knowing that professional help is there to support families should the worst happen."

Article originally appeared on Post Online on 16th November 2017

 

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Notes to Editors:

About Covéa Insurance

Covea Insurance Plc is the UK underwriting business of leading French mutual insurance group Covéa, who are number 1 for property and liability insurance in France and served 11.5 million policyholders, generating over 16.4 billion Euros in premiums in 2016.  

Covéa Insurance handles the insurance needs of over 1.3 million policyholders; delivering financial reassurance through its Standard & Poor’s A+ stable rating, as a guaranteed subsidiary of Covéa. 

The company offers motor, household, protection, mid and high net worth insurance and a range of commercial insurance products, designed to meet the needs of most individuals and businesses. Employing over 1500 people, Covéa Insurance has a strong people and service ethos, having Investors In People Gold accreditation and featuring in the 2015 and 2016 Sunday Times Top 100 Mid-sized Best Companies to Work For. It also has World Class service accreditation from the Institute of Customer Service for its Motor Claims, Home Claims and Underwriting Services teams as well as Chartered Insurer status for its Commercial and Mid/High Net Worth business.

In January 2016, Sterling Insurance Company Limited became a fully integrated part of Covea Insurance Plc, following a Part VII transfer under the Financial Services and Markets Act. Sterling Insurance was voted No. 1 in the Commercial and Personal Lines 2015 Insurance Times Broker Service Survey and Covéa Insurance was awarded the Personal Lines Insurer of the Year Award at the 2016 British Insurance Awards.

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