Cyberbullying: A Pocket Guide for Parents of Bullied Kids
Six high school football players from Marble Falls, Texas were arrested last month after allegedly threatening another football player from a rival school district via cell phone. The harassment came in the form of text messages which police say contained homophobic slurs and were “vulgar and obscene” in nature. To their credit, Marble Falls High School has now scheduled a cyberbullying and cyber texting awareness meeting for all area schools and their parents.
Still, the news comes as a shock considering all the media attention that has been devoted to cyberbullying lately. Buzz about bullying grew tremendously in September when a freshman at Rutgers University named Tyler Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge after two of his classmates filmed him having a sexual encounter with another man and then streamed the footage online.
So, what should you do if your child is bullied by cell phone or in cyberspace? Can you stop cyberbullying?
Here are some cyberbullying safety tips:
1. Maintain an open door policy. Kids are often too scared to report bullying incidents. They may feel embarrassed, frightened, and even guilty that they did something wrong. Some kids are simply too scared to tell their parents for fear of their cell phone and Internet privileges being taken away.
2. Don’t overreact. Try to evaluate the situation and be supportive of your child without immediately calling the school, but…
3. Ask questions. Cyberbullying is not a joke. Find out if your child believes he/she is in actual physical danger. If a real threat has been made or there was already an assault, contact the school district and your local authorities immediately.
4. Be understanding. Remember that words do hurt. Cyberbullying can be extremely cruel and more traumatizing than in-person bullying because it might be anonymous and it occurs 24/7. Your child may be truly suffering emotionally. Tell them that they are not alone.
5. Never retaliate. Responding to a cyberbully is not recommended, as it can sometimes create more friction and increase the harassing incidents. Encourage your child to avoid retaliation whenever possible as well.
6. Save the evidence. If things do escalate, you will need digital or hard copy records of the harassment to present to the police.
7. Know your school’s policies. Most schools are mandated by the state to have policies on bullying, harassment and violence. Find out what your school’s policies are and hold them accountable for enforcing the rules.
8. Monitor communications. Learn who your child is communicating with both online and via cell phone. The easiest way of doing this is by using an Internet monitoring service (like SafetyWeb). Watch closely for the warning signs that cyberbullying is continuing or becoming more frequent.
9. File a complaint. If the harassment takes place via cell phone, trace the number and contact the cell phone carrier. If the bullying occurs online, you can contact the site’s administrator or Internet service provider.
10. Get the “Find Help” Facebook app. SafetyWeb has launched a helpful new tool for users to easily report inappropriate behavior or content online. Kids can bookmark the app and then click “Find Help” to be directed to useful phone numbers and links for reporting incidents.
11. Consider counseling. If your child is exhibiting signs of depression or anger, consult with your family physician or a behavioral health professional for advice on further treatment.
Download a FREE cyberbullying poster for your community or school and help promote cyberbullying awareness and prevention.
Tagged as: bullying, cyber bullying, cyberbullied children, cyberbullying, Internet Safety, internet safety for kids, internet safety for teens, parent teen relationship, parenting tips, stop cyberbullying