How to Keep Your Kids Safe From Cyberbullying

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What is Cyberbullying?

Advancements in technology have given schoolyard bullies a whole new arena. Kids are now being bullied via email, text messages and social media websites. In its simplest definition, cyberbullying is the act of threatening, harassing, spreading rumors, or making fun of another person online or through the use of electronic technology.

How big is this issue?

The Cyberbullying Research Center recently performed a survey of 4,500 kids ages 12-17 to better understand what is really happening with our youth. According to their survey, 34% of students admitted to being cyberbullied and 17% said it had happened in the last 30 days. 80% of the students who were cyberbullied reported that they were bullied with mean comments being posted, while 70% said they suffered from rumors being spread about them online.

An alarming statistic is that more than 2 out of 3 of cyberbully victims claim that the mistreatment has affected their ability to learn and feel safe at school. Even worse, bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University.

Sadly, it isn’t simply just kids attacking kids online. Adults are also to blame for cyberbullying other children. There have been instances where teachers and other parents have reportedly been responsible. One such tragic story is Megan Taylor Meier. Parents of one of Megan’s former friends, one with whom she had a falling out, created an online account with the intention of harassing the teen. The abuse became so severe that young Megan took her own life!

What can be done to prevent cyberbullying?

Unfortunately, stories like Megan Meier’s are becoming all too common. So, what can be done to help prevent this from happening to your child? First of all, we need to make sure our children understand that they are not to blame and that bullying will not be tolerated.

Here are the 5 most important things kids need to know about cyberbullying…

  1. Seek help – Let an adult they trust know what is happening as soon as possible.
  2. Do not respond to any messages or means of cyberbullying. It will only fuel the fire.
  3. Do not seek revenge by becoming a bully yourself or asking friends to do the same.
  4. Block all online contact with the bully. Block their phone number, email address and delete any contact with them on social media.
  5. Most importantly, do not blame yourself. The cyberbully is the person with issues, not you.

There are other steps that can be taken if you suspect your child is a victim of cyberbullying. You may have to resort to controlling the online activities of your child. While it may seem unfair to your child that he/she is being monitored or having their online time taken away, it is better than the negative alternatives.

What can you do if this is already happening to your child?

If your child has become a target of cyberbullying, it is of the utmost importance not to respond whatsoever regardless of the severity. Your response is exactly what the bully is looking for so why give them the satisfaction? Also by responding, you are likely to retaliate and become a cyberbully yourself, which could seriously hurt your case should the authorities need to be involved.

Instead, here is what you should do if you or your child should become victims of cyberbullying…

  • Save all the evidence. Keep hurtful text messages or screenshots of any online messages.
  • Report threats and any inappropriate sexual messages to the authorities immediately. School officials and police need to be made aware of the issue as soon as possible.
  • Be persistent and tenacious. For every single attack that you receive, be sure to record and report each incident. The more relentless you are in fighting back, the sooner the issue will be resolved.
  • Block the bully. You can go beyond simply blocking an email address or deleting someone’s social media profile. Take it one step further by contacting their internet service provider (ISP) or by reporting them to the social media website being used. Large social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat all take cyberbullying very seriously and are well equipped to help you get out of these situations.

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