Bullying is not a new issue, however with the advancements of technology, such as cell phones, and social media, bullying is no longer restricted to the school yard or street corners- bullying can now follow your kid into your home.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is a form of bullying or harassment using electronic means. Harmful bullying behavior can include posting rumors, threats, sexual remarks, a victims’ personal information, or pejorative labels (i.e., hate speech).Bullying or harassment can be identified by repeated behavior and an intent to harm. Victims may have lower self-esteem, increased suicidal ideation, and a variety of emotional responses, including being scared, frustrated, angry, and depressed (wikipedia.org).
Where Cyberbullying is frequently happening:
- Text messaging
- Social Media
According to the 2015 Colorado Healthy Kids Survey, 52.1% of students in Denver spend three or more hours in front of a screen per day- during this time, it is easy for your child to become a victim of cyberbullying, become a witness to cyberbullying, or engage in bullying behavior themselves. It is important to let your child know what your expectations are of them, and also to encourage them to always come and talk to you about any concerns that they have about what they are seeing online.
By making kids aware that it is everyone’s responsibility to help make the world a safer place, we empower them to take positive actions; such as reporting a bully, flagging a cruel online comment, or not forwarding a humiliating photo. You can also encourage your child to use Safe2Tell to anonymously report any activity that concerns or threatens them, their friends, family or the community 9 (safe2tell.org).
What to do if your child is being bullied:
1) Talk with, and listen to your child. Engage your child in conversation about what is going on. Refrain from freaking out. Make sure your child is (and feels) safe. The safety and well-being of your child should always be the foremost priority.
2) Contact the content provider. Cyberbullying violates the Terms of Service of all legitimate service providers (websites, apps, Internet or cell companies). An updated list of contact information can be found here: http://cyberbullying.us/report.
3) Work with your child’s school. Seek the help of administrators if the target and aggressor go to the same school. Your child has the right to feel safe at school, and educators are responsible to ensure this through an investigation and appropriate response.
4) Contact the police when physical threats are involved.
5) If necessary, seek counseling. Your child may benefit from speaking with a mental health professional. Children may prefer to dialogue with a third party who may be perceived as more objective.
For more information on how to keep your child safe online, visit www.commonsensemedia.org.