What to Do if Your Child is Being Cyber Bullied
The following is a guide for parents who need to ensure the well being of their child in the event of cyberbullying. If cyberbullying is already occurring, then preventative measures are not very effective. Of course, it can still be a good idea to take away the devices or remove access from social media sites where the damage is being done. These steps could still be taken.
But when cyberbullying is ongoing, the first step is obviously to talk to the child to make sure they are mentally, emotionally and physically well. There are a number of modalities, and it could be a good idea to take the child or adolescent out for a treat or to an enjoyable event. They are more likely to open up this way, and it is important to gain access to the nature of the cyberbullying itself. You can also advise your child that it is ok to stand up for himself or herself if the situation continues. And most importantly, tell them to feel free to report cyberbullying as it occurs. In some cases it can be a good idea to take the child from school for a few days. Bullying and cyberbullying are very much individual situations and parents, along with the children and teachers, will have to work together to find the most appropriate remedy.
Once you have gathered as much information as possible, it is best to have a talk to the school teacher to understand the situation better. You can also talk to the parent of the child involved if possible and come to terms. This is a very important procedure, as the bully’s parents need to know what their child is up to. It could be far more effective for the parent of the bully to prevent their child from access to digital technology, so that they are not able to continue these activities. If the teacher and/or the parent are not cooperative in resolving the issue, then the only alternative may be to relocate to a different institution.
Additionally, the bully can easily be removed from social media sites as a friend or contact, and all sites provide the option to block contacts, including email providers. If you are not getting any assistance from the school teacher or the parent in resolving the issue, then only so much can be done. The school is the source from where the cyberbullying originates. There are few occurrences as harmful to a child’s wellbeing as cyberbullying, and even moving schools is far better that letting the situation continue.
There are some pieces of information that you can share with your child in the event of bullying. The first thing is to let them know that it is common and it can and does happen to different people. Reinforce to the child or teenager that it is not their fault and there are a number of resources available to help them if they wish. Research has shown that if the child believes it is his or her fault, it is more likely to happen, and the self-esteem of the child is likely to sink further. It is also very important to be as transparent as possible with your child. If you organize a meeting with school authorities and the children find out, it could lead to further marginalization.
Victims say that the thing that helps most is simply when they are listened to by other people. This helps them to release trapped emotions which could be making them depressed and very unhappy. It can be good to reinforce to the child that the event has taught them something and that they are now stronger as a result.
Remember to save and document all evidence where possible. This is an advantage that cyberbullying has over physical bullying, and it can be shown to the teacher and to the parent. Two children will likely have vastly different opinions on what happened, and it can be very difficult to know what exactly is going on. Take screenshots with your phone or device and save all of the data down in a secure folder. This is similar to how a police operative would act when gathering incriminating information. However it should be borne in mind that the aim is not to get “justice” by getting the other child “punished”. It is more about conflict resolution than dishing out punishment to “offenders”.
While it might seem like a good idea to simply block all accounts and take away the phone in an effort to prevent cyberbullying, this is not the appropriate solution in most instances. First, it is really punishing the child or young adult despite the fact that he or she has done nothing wrong. They will then wonder why they are being punished if they are doing nothing wrong, and it will simply reinforce this idea to them. Additionally, it may not work, given that digital technology is so prevalent everywhere. And third, when one social media outlet gets banned the problem will simply move elsewhere. The core issue itself has to be dealt with. It will not simply go away if it is ignored, and this is not a good standard to set for children and adolescents.
Further, it is never good to act rashly and quickly. Because the “bully” that posted a comment might actually be a victim reacting to physical bullying in the school. It is always best to be upfront and transparent as much as possible, bringing together the parents, the teachers and the two children to get a clearer picture of what is involved.
It can also help to understand some of the remedies identified by studies as the most effective in terms of preventing and stopping bullying and cyberbullying. One of these statistics is that 57%of cyberbullying actually stops when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student. So making sure that the child has a network of friends to count on could be a useful preventative step. In many cases, bullying a particular child can be seen as the norm, and children who refuse to participate in the group action can be afraid of then being seen as an outsider, in a loop. But all it takes is one peer to break this cycle and show others that bullying is not fashionable. Peer actions are viewed by those who are bullied as more helpful than teacher or adult intervention and even by self action to correct the situation. If peers listen to the victim, help them to get away, talk to them, spend time with them, distract them, tell an adult or ask the perpetrator to stop, it is viewed as very helpful through the eyes of the victim. All the research indicates that the worse effect of bullying is that the victim perceives himself or herself as alone in some way, and any kind of action by a peer can massively help with this self image of being alone and isolated. Actions that are aimed at making the bully change behaviour is less effective than peer or adult intervention.
Along with intervention by a peer, which can be very difficult to orchestrate in the face of bullying, school based prevention systems can decrease bullying by up to 20-23%So if your school has no system in place, get vocal in your concerns and start demanding that such a system is established. If you believe serious consequences have ensued due to cyberbullying or bullying, there are a number of services available to children and adolescents in the form of help centers and counselling.