Most of us had our own experience of bullying when we were growing up. But our kids face a new threat: cyberbullying. Kids are using blogs, social networking sites like Facebook, and Youtube to tease, torment and even destroy a victim’s character. Here are some ways to help your child deal with a cyberbullying attack.
Prevent cyberbullying: Teach your kids to be tech-savvy…and wary
Don’t give your child a cell phone or Internet access without talking about important rules. For example, he should understand that text messages can easily be forwarded or taken out of contact. Or that any pictures can be shared and not to put himself in any situation where a photo can be used to destroy his reputation.
Girls, in particular, must be made very conscious that a naked photo sent to a boyfriend can be uploaded and passed around—and that many a vengeful ex has done that, just for spite.
You should also tell them to be careful about the Facebook posts that they make. Private thoughts and sensitive situations are still better shared with a small circle of trusted friends, not bannered for all to see, copy, and paste. (Read our article on Facebook safety rules to teach your teen.)
Detect cyberbullying: Keep an eye out for your child
One way to know if your child is a victim of cyberbullying is to set up a Google Alert on your child’s name. You’ll be able to trace any blogs or websites that mention your child—and zero in on the bully.
But in all likelihood, your child will know of the cyberbullying attack even before you do. He may or may not tell you all the details, but do let him feel that you are there for him. Also let him know that he can approach other adults, too—like a family friend, a trusted relative, a teacher or a coach, or the school counselor.
Document cyberbullying: Gather evidence
If, despite all preventive measures, your child become a victim of cyberbullying, gather evidence: take screenshots and paste it on a document or better yet, an email which will preserve the time stamp. Remember that bullies can disable a website, destroying all proof. This is especially important if you wish to talk to school authorities or the bully’s parents, who will inevitably deny their child’s involvement.
Photo from k9webprotection.net