National Bullying Prevention Month
October is National Bullying Prevention Month and, as most parents know, the Internet and social media present a whole new world of potential dangerous interactions for kids and teens.
While most young people these days view social media as a great way to communicate with their friends, not everyone sees it the same way. Unfortunately, some use it as a medium to hurt others. Cyberbulling is the practice of sending or posting hurtful materials via the Internet or other digital platforms and, unlike bullying at school, it can happen at any time of day or night. From messages on a facebook page, to a tweet between friends, or a threatening text, cyberbullying takes place in a wide arena. According to BullyingStatistics.org, around half of all teens have been victims of cyberbullying of one form or another, with more than one in three experiencing some sort of online threat.
The most common ways kids and teens are likely to experience cyberbullying is via email, social media websites or texting. Parents can try to monitor these outlets but sitting down and talking with your children is the best way to figure out what is happening on a daily basis.
Here are a few good tips for parents to keep in mind when it comes to dealing with their children and a potential cyberbully:
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.
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 can occur 24/7. Your child may truly be suffering emotionally. Tell them that they are not alone.
Save the evidence. If things do escalate, you will need digital or hard copy records of the harassment to present to the authorities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Anyone can be the target of bullying. Never assume your child isn’t a victim (or the bully him or herself!). Simply be open and honest with your child about the topic and make sure children know that everyone deserves kindness and respect, including them!
Tagged as: bullying, cyber bullying, cyberbullying, parenting, stop cyberbullying