According to www.stopbullying.gov, cyberbullying can take place on social media, in messaging apps, on online forums, email or online gaming communities. It includes “sending, posting or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else.”
A 2019 study from the Cyberbullying Research Center found that 36.6 percent of people reported being cyberbullied in their lifetime, and 17.4 percent of people claimed they were bullied in the last 30 days.
What should you do if your child is being cyberbullied? Here are a few of the Do’s and Don’t’s to help you and your child deal with cyberbullying incidents.
Attempt to understand the situation: Bullying is a grave offence and should be handled as such. It goes without saying that there is no excuse for bullying, and if your child is being bullied, concrete actions should be taken immediately.
At times, it’s easy to jump to conclusions, especially when your child is in pain. Children in the midst of a vicious fight and a child being bullied are different scenarios, and should thus be dealt with differently. Before taking action, it’s imperative to really listen to better understand the situation to determine if your child is indeed being bullied.
Inform the school: This is always important, especially if the bully attends the same school as your child. Schools usually have anti-bullying policies, and they typically work in conjunction with social workers and other professionals.
The school is often unaware of cyberbullying incidents, as they usually don’t occur under their watch. Informing the school enables teachers and staff to take control of the situation, as well as keep an eye out for your child and support him/her during this difficult time.
Report the incident to the Police: Sometimes it is helpful to report the incident to the police. Many police departments have a unit that handles cyberbullying incidents. They will help you with the next steps and escalate the case.
Document the evidence: Take screenshots of all the bullying messages with your phone. You’ll need evidence to support your child’s case.
Block or report the bully: You can usually report the bully to social networking platforms such as Snapchap, Instagram, TikTok and so forth. They will often remove the offending posts, and at times they will suspend the bully from their platform. If removal fails, blocking the bully from your child’s social media accounts is another option.
Get your child the help they need: Cyberbullying can be a traumatic experience. Cyberbullying differs from traditional bullying in the sense that the adults in the bullied child’s life often don’t spot it since it takes place online. Also, unless the bully or the platform removes the evidence, it remains online for all to see.
You don’t want your child to be scarred by this experience. Therefore, in some cases, seeking professional help to deal with the repercussions of cyberbullying can be useful to rebuild your child’s self-esteem, ensure there is minimal lasting damage and teach your child how to deal with bullies.
Don’t allow your child to think it’s his/her fault: It is never the fault of the victim. When talking with your child, it is important to reiterate that they are not to blame for the bully’s behavior.
Don’t ignore it: Refraining from addressing the situation doesn’t make it go away. Cyberbullying, like all forms of bullying, should be handled immediately to mitigate damage and pain. Hence, creating a plan of action to tackle the issue with dignity and respect and is sensitive to your child’s feelings is imperative.
Don’t retaliate: It is easy to respond in anger and with aggression when your child is being hurt by another child. Getting back at the bully by doing to the bully what s/he is doing to your child turns you into a bully too.
Don’t forget to show your child how much you support him/her: Your child is going through a difficult time. S/he needs your love and support more than ever. Give him/her the time and energy s/he needs to work through the incident.