National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month: Cyberbullying
It is easier than ever to bully, or get bullied, in today’s online-centric world.
The Cyberbullying Research Center defines cyberbullying as the following:
- Willful: The behavior has to be deliberate, not accidental.
- Repeated: Bullying reflects a pattern of behavior, not just one isolated incident.
- Harm: The target must perceive that harm was inflicted.
- Computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices: This differentiates cyberbullying from traditional bullying.
Jane Swan, principal of the Reach Cyber Charter School, says there are ways to prevent cyberbullying. Here are some tips:
Educate your children
- Teach your child what bullying might look or sound like, so they know when to seek help.
- Tell your child that there is always help available if they are a victim of bullying.
- Show your child how to be respectful online before they are allowed to join social media.
- Teach them what kind of words and photos should and shouldn’t be posted online.
- Remind your child to be kind to others and the negative consequences that could happen if they aren’t.
Monitor your child’s behavior
- Stay alert for warning signs that your child is being bullied.
- Children are often too shy, scared, or embarrassed to talk about bullying experiences.
- Keep a close eye on your child’s social media accounts.
- Pay attention to your child’s mood and behavior and how they act after spending time online or at school.
- If your child appears nervous, anxious, or agitated, they may be experiencing cyberbullying.
- Although mood changes are normal for teens, keep an eye out for sudden sadness, depression, anger or frustration.
- Children who are being cyberbullied also exhibit poor sleep habits, nightmares, or bed wetting for younger children.
- Declining grades or loss of interest in school can be a sign of trouble.
- Children who experience bullying may also claim to have physical ailments more often.
- Make sure your child knows they need to tell an adult if cyberbullying occurs to them or someone else.
- Record the facts of the cyberbullying incidents.
- Report the cyberbully to the website it occurred on, and if serious or involving criminal activity, report it to the police.
- Many websites will block or remove users who partake in cyberbullying.
- If the cyberbullying disrupts the school environment for your child, notify school officials.
An important aspect of combating cyberbullying is to talk with your children and stay involved in their digital and online activities. Make sure they know that you are there to help them if they experience cyberbullying.
The following information is provided by the Cyberbullying Research Center:
- 28 percent of students included in a recent surveyed admitted to being cyberbullied at some point in their life.
- 16 percent of surveyed individuals admitted to cyberbullying others at some point.
- 95 percent of teenagers are online, with 74 percent having access to the Internet on their cell phone.
- Adolescent girls are just as likely, if not more likely than boys to experience cyberbullying (as a victim and offender).