Cyberbullying has become a big problem with children today. Because of their constant connection to technology through the internet, emails, text messages, online forums, social media, and chat rooms, it is easier for students to harass, threaten, humiliate or belittle their victims. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying doesn’t require physical strength or face to face contact, and it isn’t limited to just a handful of witnesses. Instead is it sneaky and mean, and often shared with hundreds of other students. Cyberbullies now have the ability to torment their victims 24 hours a day, and it can follow them anywhere, including into your home.
Parents often ask the school what they can do to protect their children from the devastating effects of cyberbullying. Here are some tips that can help you support your student from this growing problem:
Monitor your child’s technology use – unmonitored technology is the number one reason students get away with cyberbullying. No one is watching!
Encourage your student to tell an adult when cyberbullying occurs, and reassure them that doing so will not result in the loss of his/her computer, iPad, or cell phone. Many times children will not report cyberbullying because they are afraid that they will lose their technology.
Tell your student not to reply to a cyberbully – most cyberbullies are looking for a reaction.
Block a cyberbully’s email address, phone number, or delete them from social media contacts. You can also change your child’s email address or phone number so they cannot be targeted.
Unplug your child from technology – get rid of their Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc. This takes the cyberbully’s tools away from him/her.
Save the evidence – keep the abusive text or screenshot the webpage. Report these incidents to the school. TRMS has policies against cyberbullying.
Report the cyberbully – contact the cellphone company or any website and notify them of the incident. Many companies have “Use Policies” against cyberbullying.
Report the cyberbully – when threats of harm or inappropriate sexual messages are sent to your student, report these messages to the police. Often, cyberbullying actions can be prosecuted.
Remember that once someone posts things to the internet, that information is out there forever – be it good OR bad. Just because a photo or a post about your child is deleted, that information may have already been passed along to a hundred other students, or someone may have already saved it to his/her computers. An incident of cyberbullying can last forever as can the act of humiliation and fear. Be vigilant in protecting your child from cyberbullying, and contact the school if you need additional help or information that will keep your child safe.