Bullying has been a large issue for decades. Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 20% of kids will experience bullying between the ages of 12-18.
In a National Crime Victimization Survey from 2019, 16% of students in grades 9-12 claim that they were bullied through text or online within the last 12 months. Now, with endless access to technology, cyberbullying has become just as large of a concern as bullying itself.
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else.
Cyberbullying most commonly occurs on social media platforms, text messaging, instant messaging, online gaming, online forums, and email. If you suspect that your child is being cyberbullied, here are some steps to take!
6 steps to help stop your child’s cyberbully
1: Stay calm and investigate
It can be incredibly upsetting to find out that your child is being bullied, but overreacting might only make the situation worse. Let any negative emotions fuel your investigative spirit and find out everything you possibly can about the situation. Start with the 5 W’s:
Who is the bully?
What did they say or do?
When did this begin?
Where is the cyberbullying happening (aka what online platform)?
Why did it get to this point and why did your child not come to you sooner, if at all?
2: Proof is key
Claiming something has happened is one thing but proving that it has is completely different! The best way to catch a bully in the act is by documenting every occurrence that the bully is involved in. Teach your child how to screenshot on both a phone and computer so that they can capture visual evidence of their bully in action. Save these in a secure place!
3: Bully blocking
If your child is up against a cyberbully, block them!!! This is a positive to a digital bully because you have the power to block them and cut off contact. In addition to blocking the bully this might be an important time to have your child disconnect from the cyber world and refresh. Take this disconnected time to review safer internet practices with your child so that they are completely aware of proper and improper internet use. This will also help reinforce when they should come to you for help.
4: Report to proper channels
Though cyberbullying might take place outside of school that does not mean it isn’t a school matter. If your child’s bully goes to their school do not hesitate to report the situation to school officials. Offer the proof you’ve gathered as evidence against the situation and to help the school make an informed decision on how to act.
Is the cyberbullying occurring outside of your child’s school community completely? Every online platform has a way for online harassment to be flagged. Don’t hesitate to report the bully on the online platforms and if you can, provide the necessary proof!
5: A positive mindset is the best weapon
Whether your child is the target of a cyberbully or they witness someone else being cyberbullied encourage them to stay positive versus lashing out in a negative way. If your child sees another child being cyberbullied, first of all make sure they know who to report it to at school or to tell you at home. In addition to that, encourage them and their friends to post something nice or positive about the child who is being bullied. Peer pressure can also be used in a positive way, show that bully that they have a support system.
6: Don’t let the pain from bullying fester
Bullying of any kind can leave your child with a lot of pain, confusion, or sadness. Even if they conquer their bully, it can still hurt. Sometimes seeking professional help is a great remedy! Let your child know that it is okay if they want to talk to someone trained in how to handle this type of situation.
Therapists or counselors can also be a useful tool when trying to figure out how to deal with cyberbullying. They can help teach your child health and positive ways to react and stand up for themselves. In addition, professionals can also help teach your child about a multitude of online dangers like online enticement, phishing scams, or cyberbullying itself.
For more helpful information about cyberbullying and how to fight back visit stopbullying.gov!