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Stop Cyberbullying

What is cyber-bullying?

Cyber-bullying is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor.

Why do kids cyber-bully each other?

Children are often motivated by anger, revenge or frustration. Sometimes they do it for entertainment or because they are bored and have too much time on their hands and too many tech toys available to them. Many do it for fun or to get a reaction. Some do it by accident, and either send a message to the wrong recipient or didn’t think before they did something. The power-hungry do it to torment others and for their ego.

Because their motives differ, the solutions and responses to each type of cyber-bullying incident has to differ too. Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” when cyber-bullying is concerned. Only two of the types of cyber-bullies have something in common with the traditional school-type bully. Experts who understand school-type bullying often misunderstand cyber-bullying, thinking it is just another method of bullying. But the motives and the nature of cyber-communications, as well as the demographic and profile of a cyber-bully differ from their offline counterpart.

How can you stop it once it starts?

Because their motives differ, the solutions and responses to each type of cyber-bullying incident has to differ too. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” when cyber-bullying is concerned. Only two of the types of cyber-bullies have something in common with the traditional schoolyard bully. Experts who understand schoolyard bullying often misunderstand cyber-bullying, thinking it is just another method of bullying. But the motives and the nature of cyber-communications, as well as the demographic and profile of a cyber-bully differ from their offline counterpart.

Parents need to be the one trusted place kids can go when things go wrong online and offline. Yet they often are the one place kids avoid when things go wrong online. Why? Parents tend to overreact. Most children will avoid telling their parents about a cyber-bullying incident fearing they will only make things worse. (Calling the other parents, the school, blaming the victim or taking away Internet privileges.) Unfortunately, they also sometimes underreact, and rarely get it “just right.

Parents need to be supportive of their children. You may be tempted to lecture their child, but words and cyber-attacks can wound a child easily and have a lasting effect. These attacks follow them into their otherwise safe home and wherever they go online. And with millions of accomplices (other teenagers with Internet access) who can be recruited to help target or humiliate your child, the risk of emotional pain is very real, and very serious. Don’t brush it off!

Let the school know so the guidance counselor can keep an eye out for in-school bullying and for how your child is handling things. You may want to notify your pediatrician, family counselor or clergy for support if things progress. It is crucial that you are there to provide the necessary support and love. Make them feel secure. Children have committed suicide after having been cyber-bullied.

Parents also need to understand that a child is just as likely to be a cyber-bully as a victim of cyber-bullying and often go back and forth between the two roles during one incident. They may not even realize that they are seen as a cyber-bully.

Monitor your child’s technology use

Regardless of how much your child resents it, you can only protect him or her by monitoring what they do online.

  • Keep the computer in a busy area of your house so you can easily monitor its use, rather than allowing your child use a laptop or tablet in his or her bedroom, for example.
  • Limit data access to your child’s smart phone if he or she uses it to surf the web. Some wireless providers allow you to turn off text messaging services during certain hours.
  • Set up filters on your child’s computer. Tracking software can block inappropriate web content and help you check up on your child’s online activities.
  • Insist on knowing your child’s passwords and learn the common acronyms kids use online and in text messages.
  • Know who your child communicates with online. Go over your child’s address book and instant messenger “buddy list” with them. Ask who each person is and how your child knows them.
  • Encourage your child to tell you or another trusted adult if they receive threatening messages or are otherwise targeted by cyber-bullies, while reassuring them that doing so will not result in their loss of computer or cell phone privileges.

How to deal with  cyber-bullying

  • Educate your child about cyber-bullying. Your child may not understand how hurtful and damaging their behavior can be. Foster empathy and awareness by encouraging your child to look at their actions from the victim’s perspective. Remind your child that cyber-bullying can have very serious legal consequences.
  • Manage stress. Teach your child positive ways to manage stress. Your child’s cyber-bullying may be an attempt at relieving stress. Or your own stress, anxiety, or worry may be creating an unstable home environment.
  • Set limits with technology. Let your child know you’ll be monitoring his or her use of computers, tablets, smartphones, email, and text messaging. If necessary, remove access to technology until behavior improves.
  • Establish consistent rules of behavior. Make sure your child understands your rules and the punishment for breaking them.
  • If you are being cyber bullied you should tell a parent or an adult you trust.
  • Be very careful who you give your email address, personal/private information to and NEVER give out personal/private information e.g. home address, telephone number, date of birth, name of school/work/college/university, anything about family business and any sensitive/confidential information and any information that can trace you and your family to anyone without permission from your parents/guardians/teacher/boss/person in charge.
  • Don’t reply to any emails/instant messenger or chatroom conversations from a bully/harasser.
  • Be very careful of who you post your pictures, files, messages and attachments to. Anyone can see them and you never know where they can land and fall into the wrong hands.
  • Don’t share any account passwords with anyone, not even friends.
  • Don’t lower yourself to their level, be the bigger person by ignoring them (by not replying to their posts) and don’t show that they are getting to you where they would see as this would spur them on.
  • If you get any emails/instant messenger or chatroom conversations from a bully/harasser, save them and print them off which can be used as evidence and show these to your parents and to the police. Remember that bullying and harassment in this way IS A CRIME (CYBER CRIME)!
  • If they threaten you every now and then, you should tell the police in the first place.

Prevent Cyber-bullying

  •  Never share information online if it could be used against you. Cyber-bullies often use pictures, status updates, and personal information they find online to harass their targets. It’s fine to share a little information about yourself online, but never reveal something you don’t want the whole world to know.
  • Don’t take an explicit photo of yourself to send to someone else, and never let someone else take an explicit photo of you. You may be in love with your significant other now, but if you break up, you won’t have control over what happens to those pictures. Many cases of cyber bullying involve former significant others trying to get revenge on their exes by distributing explicit pictures.
  • Personal information sent through private emails, texts and instant messages could land in the hands of a cyber-bully. Try not to discuss embarrassing or deeply personal information online. Even if you’re only telling a friend, you never know how the information might get out. It’s best to discuss serious matters in person.
  • Don’t participate in cyber-bullying behavior. Even if all of your friends are doing it, cyber-bullying is still wrong. People choosing to go along with the crowd in cases of cyber-bullying is what makes these types of attacks so effective and damaging. Your behavior can influence other people’s actions; make it clear that you don’t stand for cyber-bullying by setting a good example for others.
    • If your friends start teasing someone online or via text, don’t participate. Ask them to stop, and let them know that cyber-bullying has the same dangerous consequences as in-person bullying does.
    • Don’t take photos or video of someone else without their knowledge and permission.
    • Even if you take photos or video of someone with their permission, don’t distribute them unless the person agrees to it. Never distribute photos or videos that could be considered explicit, humiliating or could somehow be used against the

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