Cyberbullying is the newest form of bullying and one of the most complex because it’s constantly evolving and changing with new technology and social media sites, and it has no boundaries – it can reach a child anywhere, anytime, and its impact can be very serious and harmful.
Cyberbullying isn’t as obvious as other forms of bullying – your child could be a victim of a cruel website or Facebook page, have private photos circulating as a means to humiliate him/her, or could be receiving threatening text messages from classmates.
Cyberbullying can also include impersonating someone else online, posting embarrassing videos of a student online, or starting “text wars” – where several people email or text the victim, which can result in an emotional and financial toll.
Unless you are monitoring your child’s use of technology and watching for warning signs, you may not know he/she is a victim of a cyber bully
There are several things you can do to help prevent or address cyberbullying in your home:
• If your child is a victim or witnesses cyberbullying, keep evidence. Hold onto those text messages, emails, photos, etc. as they could help identify the bully.
• If your child is being threatened, harassed or being sent illegal content, contact the police and give them the details – include usernames of the bully, and any other identifying information you can collect. They will want to see proof, so show them all the evidence you collected.
• Encourage your child to not respond to cyberbullies – whether your child is a bystander or victim, he/she should not respond. This also means encouraging them not to “like” negative comments or pages that are targeting other students, or forwarding content that is targeting others.
• Try to block contact from the bully by blocking their phone number, email or username (for example, Facebook allows you to block and report a user if they are engaging in activity that violates Facebook’s Terms and Conditions).
• Contact your child’s school and let them know what is happening. Even if cyberbullying is happening at home, they should be made aware of the situation.
• If the bully is identifiable and known to you, print off evidence of the attacks and contact their parents. They may be responsive, but may also be defensive. Show them proof and ask them to intervene.
• Monitor your children’s online activity. For tips more on how to do this, visit www.getsafeonline.org