Last week, I wrote about a speaker I brought into my kids’ school. She addressed bullying in her presentation called, Don’t Stand By, Stand Up! It proved to be a good lecture and there was so much information that I had to break my recap into two posts. If you missed the first post where I addressed what bullying is, what signs to look for, and what students and parents can do about bullying, then click here to read it now.
Today, I will go over what she said about cyberbullying (using the Internet, cellphones or other technology to post messages or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person).
While bullying, whether physical, social or emotional, happens while in the presence of a bully, cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Two other big difference is that cyberbullying can be done anonymously, and it is distributed quickly to a very wide audience. Deleting those inappropriate messages, texts and photos can be extremely difficult.
Types of Cyberbullying
- Direct attacks sent to a child (harassment, put downs, rumors)
- Cyberbullying by Proxy (using other to assist in bullying)
- Vengeful Angel – sees themselves as righting wrongs or protecting others from the “bad guy”
- Power Hungry or Revenge of the Nerds – anonymity gives them to power/control, may be a victim offline
- Mean Girls – bully for entertainment, group admiration fuels them
- Inadvertent Cyberbullying – role playing, anger response, joking around
Numbers very on how many kids are cyberbullied each year. But because social media is so prevalent in pre-teen and teenagers’ lives, there is a very good chance your child will be bullied online at some point.
- Talk to your child about cyber bullying and the importance of reporting it
- Have clear expectations about what they can post online and their privacy settings. As a parent, you should have access to their account and should occasionally review their online communication.
- Learn about the sites they like and check out their devices.
- Talk to you child about keeping passwords private (except from parents)
- As a friend (or do it yourself) and “follow” your kids on social media (but beware that they may try to set up two accounts)
Make sure to explain the responsibility and cyber-ethics of going online to your teen but realize that many teens do find ways around your restrictions such as having two accounts or using someone else’s computer or phone to appear online.
What to Do if Cyberbullied
The best answer is to keep an accurate record of what happened. Take screen shots and use this evidence to report to web host and cell service providers, law enforcement if necessary and school administrators.
The key here is to Stop, Block and Tell. Don’t respond or forward messages, block the person and then have kids report the incident to their parents. Do not encourage your child to respond to the cyberbullies.
The problem with trying to stop cyberbullying is that schools have little control outside of the school. Many state legislatures are working of modifying their laws on bullying to better address cyberbullying. The State of Texas is working to pass “David’s Law,” a bill aimed at preventing and combatting cyberbullying by requiring school districts across the state to include cyberbullying in their district policies. If passed, the law would give school districts the ability to investigate off-campus events and collaborate with law enforcement on investigations.
Until there are better ways to track and stop cyberbullies, the best defense is educating parents and students. To find out more about cyberbulling and ways to prevent it, check out these internet sites.