A Parent’s Guide to Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can have a catastrophic impact on young people and children. In today’s society, being online is part of life and it is also a big part of our identity and how we interact with others. 

A Parent’s Guide to Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can come in many forms, such as sending hurtful videos or images, abusive messages, excluding and humiliating others, nasty online gossip, or creating accounts in a person’s name in order to humiliate or trick them. 

How do You Know if Your Child is Being Bullied?

Many children choose not to tell their parents if they are being cyberbullied because they worry that it might make the problem worse or they may worry that their device will be taken away. But there are some signs you can look out for:

  • Changes in personality
  • Your child appears more lonely than usual
  • Your child appears upset after using the internet
  • Change in friendship groups
  • Schoolwork is no longer completed
  • Your child starts wanting to avoid clubs or school
  • Physical health begins to deteriorate

Your child becomes more secretive about what they are doing online. 

What Can You do if Your Child is Being Bullied?

If your child is being bullied, then we recommend you follow these simple steps:

  • Resist taking away their device – This doesn’t teach your child about how to be safe online, and it could make them feel isolated from their other friends.
  • Stay calm – You don’t want your child to assume that you’re going to get angry, upset or anxious about the situation. You want your child to feel like they are able to talk to you about it.
  • Listen and think – Work out the size of the problem and how badly it’s affecting your child. It is best not to respond straight away, instead, think about the best course to take.
  • Protect your child – For children who are being threatened, it is advised you get professional help. This can include lawyers who are trained in this subject like the lawyers at  https://okeefelaw.net/. Counseling and support services are also available to help.
  • Empower your child – If you can, talk to your child about how they can make good decisions and help build their confidence. 
  • Collect evidence – This is extremely important if you choose to take matters further. Take screenshots of any messages and collect any other messages (if possible, with dates and times included). However, if sexual images of children are included in the bullying behavior, having possession of these and sharing them may be seen as a crime. 
  • Manage contact – Tell your child not to respond to the messages, as this could make things worse. Instead, encourage your child to block the person in question. 
  • Report – Social media sites, games, and apps have an option for you to report the behavior and get it removed. You can report cyberbullying to eSafety. Most schools also have policies in place for cyberbullying, so reporting to them is usually helpful. 

Is Cyberbullying a Crime?

Previously, there were no cyberbullying laws, but that doesn’t mean that people haven’t noticed the rate that it is increasing. Some states have introduced laws, but many of them leave enforcement in the hands of the schools. Cyberbullying is often treated as a civil matter instead of a criminal matter. 

However, it is possible to use existing laws to prosecute individuals who are suspected of cyberbullying. Criminal harassment statutes are one of the main laws used against suspected individuals. Recently a cyber-harassment statute was created in some states which enables prosecutors to charge some cyberbullies. 

If your child is being bullied online, it is important to sit with them and listen to what they have to say before springing into action. You should talk to your child about how they want the matter to be dealt with (depending on the severity) and work from there. Support your child as much as you can and keep reminding them just how brilliant they are!