Guest Post: Helping Your Child Manage A Cyberbully at Their New School
You thought the stress of your long-distance move was over. You’re settled into your new home, you’ve unpacked, you’ve hung your “Home Sweet Home” picture, and life is returning to its normal peaceful rhythm. But, now your new address has brought fresh worries; your child is the victim of a cyberbully.
According to bullying statistics from i-Safe Foundation, nearly half of polled adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyberbullying. Their statistics also report that 1 in 5 young people have experienced cyber threats online, and over 20 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.
Perhaps more alarming than the sheer volume of the abuse are the damaging outcomes of cyberbullying playing out in communities across our nation; increased anxiety and depression are prevalent, as is the incidence of suicide.
Helping your child manage the cyberbully and the effects of the abuse are critical. Let’s look at some ways you can help.
If your child receives a cyberbullying text message, you should take these steps immediately:
- Do not reply.
- Take screenshots (you may need for proof of bullying).
- Whatever app your child is using, help them find the block feature to block the bully from sending future messages.
- Help your child file an abuse report on whichever app they are using.
- Discover how to change the privacy settings on the app so that your child can only be contacted by friends they have approved.
It’s estimated that only 41% of teens tell their parents they’re being bullied. If your child has been brave enough to share, don’t overreact. Make sure to stay calm and help them problem solve. Helping them to create a solution for the problem empowers them to take control. And, by all means, don’t dwell on it. Talk the situation through, decide on a course of action, and move on to more positive things. If the bullying continues, however, a different course of action may be required.
Create a safe haven
Your home is your child’s safe place; it should be the one place where they have a soft landing from life’s hardships. Try incorporating some of these strategies to make sure it’s a stress-free environment:
- Stop rushing and slow down.
- Don’t over-structure and overschedule your children; they need home time to wind down.
- Do have reasonable structure so life can run predictably for your teen.
- Have a screen time limit, and lead by example.
- Be strong and positive role models for your teen; their future behavior is learned, teach them well.
Help them rediscover the real world
All too often teens, and adults, are caught up in their online lives, while overlooking the beauty of the real world. According to cyber safety expert Tom Rich, “Playing sports, a hobby, creative projects, and spending time (in person) with friends and family – these are all great way that your child can focus on all of the other meaningful and joyful elements of his or her life! The more time your daughter spends doing her favorite activities or spending time with loved ones, the less significance cyberbullying will have in her life.”
Teens are often reluctant to tell because of the old negative connotation of tattletales. Dr. Phil says, “We’ve got to teach these kids that telling is not tattling.” He encourages teens to be coached in reaching out and getting help with teachers, school administrators, and counselors, if necessary. Our teens need “touchstones,” or places where they can go for help. Oftentimes, mom and dad aren’t their first go to; so, set your ego aside, and help them establish some trusted resources they can rely on, whether it’s a doctor, a priest, or a close friend.
Remember, relocating can be particularly difficult for your teen, and cyberbullying can add another overwhelming stressor to the already tough situation. If you’ve tried these tips, and you still notice symptoms of withdrawal or sadness, get professional help.
Janice Miller has always been an advocate for ensuring safety. It started just in the community, in a physical neighborhood but the more she engaged herself online she has found that there is a need to ensure safety on the interweb as well.