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Words Do Hurt: The Case to Prevent Cyberbullying

November 28, 2016

Is your child being cyberbullied?

A lot of adults have a hard time relating to cyberbullying, especially Baby Boomers. It seems that it is harder to take a kid seriously when he says he was bullied online. That isn’t real bullying, right?

The problem students encounter is that, when they are cyberbullied, there is nowhere they can get away. Technology follows them, and unless they are able/willing to fall off the grid, there can be no escape from scathing text messages, social media posts, or videos. Kids take all of this very seriously, and if you don’t, I hope you will after reading this.


What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying takes place everywhere- computers, tablets, cell phones, video games, etc. It can be as low-profile as someone poking fun of a goofy picture your child posted or as serious as kids saying degrading things to or about each other.  If a child is being cyberbullied, they are probably being bullied in person as well.

Why is it so important to know about it? 

Nobullying.com offers a lot of cyberbullying statistics, among them;

  • 25% of teenagers report that they have experienced repeated bullying via their cell phone or on the Internet.
  • Over half of teenagers report being cyberbullied (that means if you have 2 kids, more than likely, one of them is or has been cyberbullied).
  • More than 1 in 10 has reported having embarrassing photographs taken of them without their knowledge or consent.
  • Over half of all teenagers who use social media have witnessed cyberbullying online, a staggering 95% of those who witnessed the cyberbullying have ignored the behavior.
  • More than half of those being cyberbullied say that they never confide in their parents.

What can I do to stop it?

Be aware of the signs that your child is being cyberbullied. According to stopbullying.gov, a kid who is being cyberbullied is more likely to use alcohol or drugs, skip school, receive poor grades, have lower self-esteem, or have more health problems. If you see any kind of dramatic changes in behavior that lead toward the above mentioned characteristics, you need to take action. You can also mitigate the risk by following these steps:

 

  • Create your own profile on the social media platforms that your children use and “Friend” or “Follow” them so that you can watch for overt cyberbullying.
    Make this a criteria for them to have these accounts - if they won’t friend you, then make them take their social down.

 

  • Get account information from your children and log onto their accounts occasionally to ensure that your child is not receiving any kind of bullying via private messaging. 
    Keep in mind that this account information is a privilege, even if you made your kids give you their information, they trust you to not violate their privacy. With this in mind, only log in every once in awhile, once a month is probably plenty.

 

  • Have a sense of what they do online and over the phone, check their phones occasionally as well.
  • Ask your kids about the sites they visit and their online activities; be aware of where they are going, what they are doing, and who they are doing it with.

 

  • Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they witness or experience any kind of cyberbullying. Make sure they are aware that there will be no negative recourse (such as losing computer/cell phone privileges) when they tell you. 
     
  • Don’t respond to or forward any cyberbullying messages. 
     
  • Keep evidence of cyberbullying such as texts, emails, or screenshots in a folder on a hard drive or on the cloud. 
     
  • Block the person who is cyberbullying your child. 
     
  • Report it to the social media site and they will take action against users who are abusing their terms of service. 
     
  • If cyberbullying escalates to the following activities, you need to contact your local law enforcement:
     
    • Threats of violence
    • Taking a photo/video of someone in a place where they can reasonably expect privacy
    • Stalking or hate crimes

 

None of us want to see our children go through their most important developmental stages with someone pushing them around or causing unnecessary problems in their lives. It is important for us to ensure that our kids and the kids around us are not experiencing any kind of cyberbullying. Follow this plan and chances are you will help prevent it!

 

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