One of the biggest issues with cyberbullying is that it can happen to anyone. As long as they have a cell phone or social media profiles, their image and name is fair game to low-life bullies. This is extremely concerning considering kids of all ages seem to have access to the Internet at any time. And no matter how strong or cool we think our kids are, that doesn't mean they're not susceptible to being cyberbullied.
As soon as a child gets to those school years where everyone is trying to fit in and be *cool*, it's time for a parent to have their guard up. It's time to look for signs, have some deep conversations, and take action to ensure safety in your child (and the safety of others).
The last thing anyone wants is physical or mental harm due to something as silly as bullying through a screen. And while mom or dad may think they have little control over the situation, these are 10 steps then can take to help.
10 First Things First: Ask Them
Cyberbullying—and bullying in general—is a very touchy and emotional subject. Adults may look down at cyberbullying, thinking it's silly and brushes it off their shoulder but it's much more intense for a kid/teen.
Avoid being confrontational and over-protective; simply ask them if they're having torubles with anyone at school because you've noticed a small difference in their behavior. Come from a sweet and loving way, hopeful that they'll open up to you.
9 Show Your Appreciation For Them Telling You
If your child comes forward and tells you they're being picked on by fellow classmates, thank them for opening up and telling you. Let them know that they did the right thing in coming to you and that they'll always be safe and supported at home. Sometimes kids can be anxious or nervous about telling their parents something so sensitive, so assuring them that they did the right thing can boost their confidence and overall trust with their parent.
8 Ask To See Screenshots Or Messages For Proof (And Save Them)
If they feel open doing so, ask to see screenshots or proof of the cyberbullying taken place. This is not coming from a place of not trusting them; you simply would like to take a look at the level of bullying taken place.
Depending on the direction you want to take, send yourself the screenshots so that you have physical proof in case it's needed.
7 How Has Your Child Retaliated?
Before taking a look at the messages from your child, ask them how it started. Ask who's involved, why they're saying these things, and how they (your child) responded. Kids say the darndest things sometimes and may try to act innocent even though they retaliated, so it's important not to overreact if your child cyberbullied them back in retaliation.
If they did react out of frustration or anger, it's time to have a conversation with them about two wrongs not making a right.
6 Take Measures To Block Them
Depending on the age of your child or teen that's being cyberbullied, you have all the freedom in the world to block whoever is doing the bulling. Every social media platform has a blocking and privacy button. If kids are bullying your child, block them. If it continues to happen, go ahead and change the privacy setting so no one can search their name.
The next thing a parent can do is actually report the person's profile due to inapt content and harassment. Blocking bullies is the ultimate way to give a kid their freedom back. It can boost their confidence and be able to scroll online without fear.
5 Teach Your Child How To React To These Kinds Of Situations
Whether your child retaliated to their cyberbully or not, teaching them how to react to these kinds of situations is important for any parent. Bullying can happen through all stages of life and having a deeper understanding of how to react can be valuable. Teach them to be strong and to know themselves. Show them that people who bully and demean others are showing their own character than the person their picking on. We never know what's going on in someone else's home, so we can't judge those who are judging us.
4 Touch Base With The Bully's Parents
Cyberbullying is taken very seriously these days. The problem, however, is many parents do want to admit to themselves that their child is the problem. They seem to always place blame on someone else. This is where screenshots come in handy.
If you know who the parents of this cyberbully are, give them a call and ask if they can grab a coffee to talk things over. You don't need to come out guns blazing (they'll just get defensive), but you can show them proof of their child's harsh words and how it's affecting your child.
3 And If Nothing Happens, Contact Your Child's School
If meeting the cyberbully's parents falls through or doesn't end well, let them know that you are taking the next steps to make sure something like this never happens again. Webroot tells parents to contact the school's principal or vice-principal to take action. As a school, they need to take cyberbullying seriously and will contact the kids involved and other parents. Now, your child may be embarrassed by your taking charge, but it's important to take action so nothing more comes from it.
2 If Necessary, Law Enforcement May Need To Be Contacted
Depending on how threatening the bullying taking place is, parents have a right to contact their local law enforcement. Actions have their consequences and if a child is threatening bodily harm via computer, iPad, or cellphone, then you better believe the police are going to get involved.
Considering how often cyberbullying takes place, these kinds of calls are taken very seriously and action will be taken.
1 Counseling May Be A Good Idea If Your Child Is Deeply Affected
It doesn't matter if your child was bullied once or for an entire school year, counseling can help. Going to the school counselor may be a better idea then finding one outside of school because they're more familiar with the students and how the school can be. They may even know the cyberbully in question and be able to help in that way.
For a child, having an adult that's not a family member may allow them to open up more and feel more positive about the situation.