Are you worried about your kids and cyberbullying? If not, you should be, especially with the recent news about bullying that ends in tragedy. It is certainly frightening to think about your child being cyberbullied without you even finding out about it. Millions of teens and children nationwide have been affected by cyberbullying, including one in three elementary school students.
First, you must know what cyberbullying is. This can sometimes be difficult for parents to understand, especially if they don’t spend a lot of time online themselves. Cyberbullying is the use of Internet resources, such as email or instant messaging to taunt, ridicule, or harass someone. Though cyberbullying does not include physical violence, it is often a sign that physical bullying is occurring or is likely to occur. Luckily, there are steps parents can take to protect their children from this threat, or to deal with it if is happening.
First, pay attention to your children and their Internet usage. Pay attention to moody or out of character behavior, as it could indicate a range of teenage and preteen problems, including bullying. Talk regularly with your child about the online activities in which they are participating. If your child mentions something about an uncomfortable Internet encounter, listen to what they say, and advise them about how to proceed. If you do learn about possible cyberbullying, do not prompt your child to respond to it, but do not delete the evidence.
Limit Internet usage, especially for young children. Know where your children are going online, and block the “chatting” ability of younger kids. Insist on knowing your younger kids’ Internet account passwords, including access to email and sites like MySpace or Facebook. Keep the computer in a public area of the home, rather than in a bedroom, so that you can monitor Internet usage. You don’t have to stand over their shoulder constantly, but you should have an awareness of what your kids are doing on the computer.
Besides knowing what they’re doing online, also know who they’re doing it with. Many kids like to chat with other kids they know from school or the neighborhood. However, it’s also possible for them to connect with kids they don’t know in person, or even adults. It’s also important to realize that those online may use a false identity, such as an adult pretending to be a child around the same age as your own kids. If your child is being bullied by someone anonymous, save all of the evidence, as it is still possible to track down the perpetrator even if they think they have left no tracks.
Just because it’s happening online doesn’t make it a less serious problem than physical bullying. Take it seriously, and help your child find a solution to it. Don’t be afraid to get help from the school or the police if you feel it is necessary. Cyberbullying can lead to physical bullying or violence, and it has even been known to result in the suicide of the victim. Today, more and more children are becoming the victims of cyberbullying as their online time increases. It is your responsibility as a parent to be sure that your child is not getting harassed online.
For more information and tips on how to prevent cyberbullying, visit stopbullying.gov.
The Resist Attack Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to helping women protect themselves from violence. Since being founded by James and Tara Shaw in 2011, the Resist Attack Foundation has been helping women in many ways. Their S.A.F.E. program aims to provide women with the educational and physical tools that can help keep them free from harm.