There used to be a time when bullying only happened on school property. Once kids got home, they were safe from being pushed around by others. With the rise in social media use, cell phone texting and instant messaging, bullying is no longer isolated on school grounds. Every day, you hear stories about a child being taunted, “outed,” degraded or harassed via electronic means, otherwise called Cyber Bullying. Learn How to Protect Yourself from Cyberbullying!
According to the Cyber Research Center, about 20 percent of kids ages 10 to 18 have experienced some form of cyberbullying. This behaviour is especially prevalent among middle school girls. Your family doesn’t have to be victimized by cyberbullies. Use these tips to help your child cope.
Don’t respond. When someone is bullying your child online, she may be tempted to respond or defend herself against her attacker. Teach your child that arguing with a bully online, or otherwise will only add kerosene to the flame. In addition, when victims respond with heat-of-the-moment posts, their responses might be circulated on blogs or social media sites, and make matters worse.
Change your child’s contact information. If the perpetrator is repeatedly texting or emailing nasty messages, change your child’s phone number and email address. Encourage your kid to only give her new information to trusted friends.
Contact the web host. If the bullying is happening on a social media site, contact the site host and report the problem. If someone is hacking your child’s account and pretending to be her, change the password.
Use block features. Use the block feature on your instant messenger account to keep the bully from contacting you. If your child prefers not to block the offender, encourage her to only answer messages from known individuals.
Involve teachers and school administrators. Even though bullying is happening in cyberspace or via text, the school can step in and reprimand the offenders if the behaviour is spilling over into the school. Don’t be afraid to request a meeting with the perpetrator’s parents. They may not have a clue that their “angel” is harassing others online.
Save all communications from the bully. If ignoring the bully or changing contact information doesn’t stop the behaviour, you may need to take more drastic measures. Save all emails, text messages and social media posts just in case you have to prove what’s going on to local newspapers or law enforcement officials.
Don’t assume that your child will tell you if she is being bullied. She may be embarrassed about what’s happening or she simply may not know how to approach you about the situation. Talk openly to your kid about what cyberbullying is and what she can do to thwart the behaviour.
You never want your child to use technology to bully others. Encourage your kid to ask herself if what she posts is something she would want her family, teachers or future employers to read. If not, encourage your child to reconsider posting. In addition, remind her that online messages can get reposted on blogs and social media sites. Once a message is out there in cyberspace, it can easily come back to haunt her.
Cyberbullying might seem harmless, but if it’s not dealt with appropriately, it can have serious emotional consequences for your child. The above tips will give your child the tools she needs to deal effectively with cyberbullies. This is How to Protect Yourself from Cyber Bullying!