Last week, we defined cyberbullying and talked about why it is so damaging. This week, we’re going to talk about its warning signs and what you can do if you see them.
The good news is that in this, as with most things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Your duty as a parent is to educate your children about appropriate behavior. How to act, how to react, how to cultivate resilience in their personal life. And how to value themselves. A person who knows their worth is not going to tolerate bad behavior in any aspect of their life, whether it is at work, at home, or online.
Another good preventative step is to cultivate an open relationship with your child. Be curious about their interests, the shows they like watching, the games they like playing. If your child is used to sharing things with you, it will be easier to notice red flags.
This is especially important with younger children who are just starting to explore the online world. It allows parents to monitor their child’s internet usage without resorting to more invasive measures.
Sometimes, though, prevention is not enough.
- Does your child seem depressed?
- Have they suddenly stopped using their phone or computer?
- Do they seem nervous or jumpy while using their devices?
- Are they unusually angry, depressed, or frustrated after going online?
- Are they losing interest in things that matter to them?
- Do they avoid discussions about what they are doing online?
- Have they become unusually secretive about their time online?
If any of these sound familiar, your child may be experiencing cyberbullying, and it may be time to intervene.
1. Listen to what your child has to say and—more importantly—what they want to do about the situation. Make sure they know they have your unconditional support, and that you, too, want the bullying to stop.
2. Make a plan with your child about what to do about the bullying. Collect evidence for whoever may be investigating the matter, whether that is your school or the police. Contact the relevant content providers. If physical threats have been made, contact the police.
Deal with the Aftermath
3. The foremost goal should be to prevent any more bullying from occurring. Teach your child how to use the privacy controls within the social media sites they use, and how and when to file a report with the content provider. Encourage your child to seek counseling, if necessary, to process what happened with a neutral third party.
Above all else, it is important that you stay calm. It is a difficult thing to realize that your child has been bullied, but reacting emotionally will not make it stop.
If you are angry, good. Channel that into action, and do everything in your power to make sure your child has what they need to recover and to protect themselves in the future.
We hope this helps if you experience online bullying in your family.
Until next time,
Your SZW Team
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