Guide to Cyberbullying Advice
Imagine your child receiving texts or IMs that are mean or spreading awful derogatory pictures or rumours about them. Or think about your child receiving links to pictures, fake profiles, videos or drawings depicting them in a compromising situation. Not bearable, isn’t it?
Before finding ways to protect your child from such awful things, you, as a parent, need to understand several key facts about Cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying Advice: Children who are Cyberbullied are usually also bullied in person by clubmates or school peers
-That usually means that it is quite hard for your child to alienate him/herself from this behaviour or simply step away from it.
Cyberbullying Advice: Unlike other forms of Bullying, Cyberbullying can happen around the clock
-This is simply because your child is always connected to his/her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Ask.fm or Myspace page. So bullying in this case is continuous and never stops.
Cyberbullying Advice: It takes longer to find the person responsible for the Cyberbullying wave
-Once it is reported that someone is facing Cyber-Bullying, it will take authorities some research to detect the IP of the person responsible and track him/her down. “Cyber-bullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source.”
Cyberbullying Advice: Erasing inappropriate messages, videos, texts, and pictures is difficult if they have been posted or sent to a wide range of users
Once any harassing message is sent, spread, shared, posted or reposted, getting every single user to report it as harassment or remove it is extremely difficult and very hard to manage.
How to Help Your Child Overcome Cyberbullying
Now, the question on your mind is how to help your child overcome cyberbullying with this Guide to Cyberbullying.
You cannot blame cell phone and computer manufacturing companies, these equipments are made so that everyone is connected with family and friends, it helps your child do his/her research for school work or connects them to people who share the same positive interests and hobbies. The fact remains that bullying is bullying, whether it is online or in person.
Children who suffer from Cyber Bullying are more prone to harm themselves, lose self-esteem, use alcohol, drugs or prescription drugs to numb their pain, they can get reclusive, refrain from seeing friends or going to school, and face health issues out of stress and anxiety and get poor grades at school because they are too in pain to concentrate on their studies or hobbies.
What Can You Do as a Parent?
1. One key element is quite simple: talk to your child. Educate them on how you value it deeply when they talk to you about how their day has gone or what they are going through with friends or online. Don’t be inquisitive; your child is not a suspect nor is he/she a criminal, make it a daily habit to sit with your child and talk about what is happening in your life. You must be his/her one trusted place where they can feel safe to talk and complain.
2. Note that your child will most likely fear your reaction if they tell you they are cyber-bullied, they may fear that you will criticize them, take away their internet privileges or make a big deal out of it at school which might make them victims to more in-person bullying. They fear that you will over-react but the worst is that you under-react, that is, brushing off the subject as kids play and not talk enough or investigate enough about it.
If your child comes to you with a bullying problem, don’t attack them nor brush it off as nothing. Get all the information from them without judging them and discuss with them what they feel is the best solution for the matter and keep your word and promises about what to do.
3. Don’t belittle the situation by telling them that “Words can’t hurt you”, it may be true when one person is bullying your child. But with Cyber-Bullying, thousands and even millions of users can all be hurting your child, the emotional effect of something this big is very painful and unbearable to anyone, let alone a child, a pre-teen or a teenager. Several teenagers and children have taken their own lives after suffering from cyber-bullying, it is that serious.
4. Let the school know but agree with the school administration not to spread the word or your child might be targeted on an even bigger scale. The school’s job is to provide supervision, counselling and support under your watchful eye. The school should be another place where the children feel support, love and security, not a place where they feel they might be targeted.
5. Understand that your child might be turning from a victim of cyberbullying to a cyberbully in a second. Children resolve to do that in an effort to battle their own demons with bullying, feeling if they have an influence over another child, their own battle might resolve. This is not true and it only makes the matter worse for everyone involved. Educate your child that inflicting any kind of pain on someone else is not a very nice thing to do or be.
6. Assess the situation and get information. You have to find out if your child might be under any sort of harm if you or he/she escalates the situation to the authorities, will they be bullied even more if they report it? How will the bully’s parents react? Will you need to get your child to change schools or clubs? And most importantly, assess how your child is coping with the bullying? Is he/she losing sleep? Losing weight? Getting poor grades? Losing self-esteem? If you see any of these signs, it is perfectly fine to seek therapy and counselling for your child.
7. If you find information that your child’s personal information is live online or there are threats to their life or wellbeing. Head to the authorities right away! If the information you have is doubtful, it will never hurt to talk to the authorities and get your information straight.
8. Get Technology to work for you. Take your child’s computer, phone or tablet to the authorities and the specialists will analyze and track the live data and see if your child is really at risk.
CyberBullying Advice: Get Your Facts Straight
- Cyber Bullying can be criminal, examples of criminal activities that need to be reported are threats of violence, extortion, obscene or harassing phone calls or text messages, harassment, stalking or hate crimes, child pornography and sexual exploitation.
- Monitoring your child’s online activity from a distance is not a bad thing or an invasion of their privacy. Establishing rules with your child about what to do/not do online does not make you a bad parent.
- Your child being a cyberbully is as problematic as being a cyberbullying victim, it requires interfering and explaining to your child that is not a good thing to do or be.
- It is not a problem not it is a stigma if you seek therapy and psychological help if your child is a victim of cyber-bullying. These experiences can change their lives forever if not dealt with correctly.
One last key fact is that if your child is a victim of cyberbullying or in person bullying or both, you are not a bad parent, you are not at fault and they can be rescued and taught how to defend themselves. Learn more about protecting your child from bullying here.