School has started. This is a fertile time for the possibility of your child becoming a victim of cyberbullying threats. Bullying and cyberbullying top parents’ list of worries when it comes to their children’s health, according to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan.
As more children have access to the internet and social media, many parents also expressed concerns about their children’s safety online. Experts have raised concerns about how cyberbullying may impact children’s mental health, with anxiety, depression and even suicide being linked to this type of harassment. Vulnerability to online predators is also a risk.
We want to arm parents and kids with some tips to stop cyberbullies in their tracks.
Tips for Your Child
Don’t blame yourself
This is not your fault. Don’t blame yourself. Keep telling yourself, “No, this is not about me. The bully has a problem, not me.”
Say no to revenge
The bully is taunting you. They want you to react or respond. It is hard but try not to respond to the bully’s insults. The bully will not get what they want if you do not respond.
The good news about cyberbullying is that there is public evidence of their bullying. You can save that evidence to show a teacher or a parent. (Visit ConnectSafely for instructions on how to capture screens on phones and computers.)
Clarity with the bully
If you feel comfortable with this, contact the bully one time to tell them to stop immediately. Talk to your parents or someone you trust about how to say it clearly and in a safe manner.
Tell someone immediately when the bullying starts. You can begin by telling a friend but tell your parents as soon as possible to get their support, wisdom, and guidance. If you don’t feel comfortable telling your parents, talk to a guidance counselor or teacher.
Block and report
These days you can block a person who is harassing you. It is also a good idea to report this person to your service provider. If the bully accelerates to more violent aggressive posts that could cause physical harm report them to the school authorities and police immediately.
Tips for Parents
The bully talk
Make sure to have a bully talk with your child as soon as school begins. This raises your child’s awareness of a bully’s pathology. This educates your child and they can also help others that may be bullied. Ask your child to come to you immediately if any bullying starts. Assure them that you are there to support them in all aspects of their life.
Partner with your child
Bullying can have a long-term effect on your child’s mental health. It is important that your child feels empowered and has an opportunity to create their own solutions to this challenge. Your child knows the bully and their school circumstances so they are better equipped to give insight and direction.
It is important to have respect for your child’s stress and anxiety. One of the greatest gifts you can give them at this time is listening deeply and respectfully to their feelings about this situation.
If you feel as if your child is spiraling into mental health problems and nothing seems to be working get help. Talk to their school principal and a mental health expert. There are many resources online to assist you.