What can I do if my child is being cyberbullied?
2 experts and 1 parent have answered
Approximately one quarter of young people aged between 11 and 16 have experienced cyberbullying. It’s a fairly recent phenomenon but, luckily, there are support systems already in place; and of course nothing beats just talking to your child about it.
It’s vital you keep copies of offending texts, emails or comments made to or about your child. With a decent dossier of evidence, you can contact your mobile phone company, internet service provider or the relevant website to notify them that your child has been a victim of cyberbullying. From there you can also block the phone numbers, email addresses and online profiles that cyberbullies have used to make contact.
There are no specific laws governing cyberbullying at present but if your child is facing serious harassment , the police may be able to help. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to involve your kid’s school – it can be difficult for schools to intervene if bullying isn’t happening on school premises, but schools have anti-bullying policies and should do all they can to help. UK charity Beat Bullying also runs online counselling and peer mentoring schemes for young people affected by cyberbullying.
Whatever you do, don’t blame the child, or restrict their internet access to try to stymie the bullying; that’s counterproductive. ‘It’s more important for young people to learn how to communicate effectively in cyberspace,’ says Louise Burfitt-Dons of Act Against Bullying, ‘Talking to your child about what is going on “on the net” has probably replaced the “what happened at school today?” conversation.’
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I agree with all of the thorough answer above. I would add that a conversation with the child about their thoughts about it would help to give you some insight into how they are processing it. Allowing the child to vent a little, acknowledging the feelings evoked by the cyberbullying, and then talking through a healthy way to view hurtful or threatening behavior. Realistic and healthy ways to view a situation often involve putting things into a balanced perspective: all people are a mixture of strengths and weaknesses, no one is liked by everyone, we all make mistakes, we can't control what other people do but we can control the way we think about it and react to it, etc.
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And don't forget to block the bully, and implore that the child doesn't retaliate or respond to the bullying as it only fuels it. In some cases you might not want to block until you have spoken to the authorities. Most apps have blocking ability.