Family And Parenting

What to Do if Your Child is Bullied Online

As a parent, it’s important to regularly talk with your child and make sure everything is going okay at school and outside of school.

Cyberbullying, online bullying.

Whatever you want to call it, it isn’t pleasant and it can be traumatic and even cause irreparable harm if it happens to your child.

Defined as: “… willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices,” it has grown by leaps and bounds over the decades.

In a 2019 study of a nationally representative sample of 5,000 middle and high schoolers in the U.S., 36.5% said they had been cyberbullied during their lifetime, while 17.4% reported they had been cyberbullied within the previous 30 days.

Concerning offending, 14.8% said they had cyberbullied others during their lifetime, while 6.3% admitted doing so in the last 30 days, the study said.

So, what do you do if it’s happening to your child?

First don’t panic, there are various tips and suggestions for parents to help them know what to do when or if their child is being bullied online.

For instance, cyberbullying.org has a complete list of actions parents can do if their child has been cyberbullied.

Among those tips is to ensure your child feels safe and protected. As a parent, you’re always striving to do this, but after finding out if they have been bullied you will need to step it up and make them feel even more at ease.

Another suggestion by the website is to have a chat with your child and truly listen to what they have to say. Set aside all your other duties as a parent and engage in a sit-down with your child to hear them out and don’t minimize the situation. Let your child know you are there for him/ her unconditionally.

Also, if possible, try and collect any videos, emails, and social media messages that back up the incident. In other words, act like an investigative reporter and keep track of any evidence found and by writing it all down.

Try to refrain from contacting the bully and the parents which may make matters worse. Instead, work alongside the school and its administrators. Most schools in the country have a bullying policy and they can offer ideas and suggestions.

Ask administrators to identify if the aggressor attends the same school as your child. All children have the right to be protected and feel safe while in school, and educators need to ensure they are fulfilling this policy via an investigation into the offense by offering a solution/ response.

Reach out to the content provider where the cyberbullying is appearing. Cyberbullying violates the Terms of Service of all legitimate service providers (websites, apps, gaming networks, Internet, or cell phone companies). Even if your child cannot identify the person who is bullying them, you can still contact the content provider and report the offense (s). An updated list of contact information can be found at: cyberbullying.org/report.

If needed, find a counselor as your child may feel more comfortable and reap the benefits of sharing their circumstance with a qualified mental health professional.

Contact law enforcement if any physical threats are involved, most states have laws dealing with online threats, and law enforcement such as police, or a sheriff’s department can help. If your local police department is not able to assist, contact county or state law enforcement officials, they may be able to provide more resources and help with technology-related problems like cyberbullying.

You can find more tips here and here if your child is experiencing any form of cyberbullying online.

As a parent, it’s important to regularly talk with your child and make sure everything is going okay at school and outside of school. If you notice your child seems sad, depressed, or not like themselves, be sure to sit them down and find out what’s wrong sooner than later.

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