Cyberbullying is a very real and devastating form of bullying that is only hindered and coerced by the constant access to social media, internet and cell phones. Unlike bullying in years past, cyberbullying doesn’t leave visible marks and can scar much deeper than some physical injuries. “Cyberbullying” is defined as when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones.
As a parent, you may have several questions in regards to cyberbullying and your child. First, how do you know when your child is being cyberbullied? As always, it’s important that you have an open communication with your child. Anytime your child is using any social technology such as the internet, social websites, cell phones and multiple other mediums, you should be aware and involved in their activities. It is important that prior to their use of such devices, they should understand that anytime anything that makes them feel uncomfortable happens, they should report such occurrences to you. Be aware of what types of websites your child is visiting and who is able to contact them through such sites. Check in on your child and watch for warning signs of undesirable behavior.
Second, what do you do when your child is being cyberbullied? Unfortunately, because every instance is different, each situation must be handled differently as well. There is no cookie-cutter answer to this difficult problem. First, be advised to not ignore instances of cyberbullying. Unlike bullying that takes place physically, cyberbullying can follow your child everywhere they go and has no ends to the number of individuals who can take part in such bullying. At the same time, it is important to not over-react. Probably the best thing you can do for your child is to create a support system. Keep teachers, guidance counselors, therapists, family doctors, religious figures, adult role models and even friends of your child on hand to help support your child and to make sure that the bullying does not escalate into something more serious. It is important to note that children have committed suicide and even killed other children after cyberbullying incidences. So this is not something that should be overlooked!
And finally, remember, you are not alone. There are multiple resources available to you. As a parent, you must take cyberbullying seriously and evaluate your child’s needs. The best things you can do for your child is be there for support and use all of your resources to prevent the cyberbullying from continuing. Please remember that is never okay to take the law into your own hands. Taking action against a child who is cyberbullying your child will only make matters worse for you and your child and make the cyberbully the victim.
Below are lists of some websites that are full of information that can help you as a parent understand, prevent, and see the signs of cyberbullying.