The sad fact that children bully each other, sometimes with tragic consequences, has received considerable attention in the media in recent times. One specific aspect of this terrible behavior, cyberbullying, is becoming ever more prevalent as the use of communications technology and social media by children entering adolescence increases to near-universal levels. As a form of bullying, cyberbullying is just as insidious as any other negatively charged social interaction: it is an attack on the victim's identity and psyche, and it invades the victim's personal space. The tormenter is signaling that nowhere is safe, even their own cell phone or social media profile.
When children are subjected to cyberbullying, they can suffer emotionally, psychologically and even physically from the effects of this aggression. No parent wants to see that happen, so how can we keep our kids safe? Here are some tips to help your child counter any potential cyberbullying.
- Tell your child to not respond to negative emails, text messages, social media posts, comments, etc.
- Save evidence of cyberbullying. Save the negative email, or take a screenshot of the text message/social media post and note dates and times.
- Contact your internet service provider (ISP) or a special helpline on the social network where the offensive content was posted. Ask them to dismantle any page created to harm your child. You can also contact your wireless phone operator and ask them to block text messages from certain numbers.
- Your child should block bullies on their social network or close their account and start a new one, paying close attention to who their "friends" are.
- To stop bullies from harassing your child via text message, you can simply change the cell number and tell them to make sure it is only given to a limited circle of trustworthy people.
- Appeal to the school. Cyberbullying is simply harassment at school extended into electronic communications. See what policy your child's school follows on cyberbullying and urge a crackdown on this destructive behavior.
- If the cyberbullying in any way contains inappropriate sexual content, report it to the CyberTipline. Electronic service providers must report on materials involving the sexual exploitation of children.