Back to School: What You Can Do When Your Child Is Cyberbullied

Posted: September 8, 2015 in Human Trafficking Is...
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With U.S. youth spending between six and eight hours each day on social media, children as young as 8 years old can become a victim of cyberbullying.
Many parents are at a loss regarding how they can help their child deal with the issue and prevent further occurrences. Below is a list of 10 steps to overcome and resolve cyberbullying.

What Is Cyberbullying?

“Cyberbullying is defined as bullying that takes place using electronic technology such as cell phones, computers, and tablets, as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites,” according to StopBullying.gov.

Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.

Cyberbullying Stats You Need to Know

  • 95% of social networked teens who have witnessed cruel behavior on social networking sites, say they have seen others ignoring the bullying behavior.
  • 24% of the students surveyed by the Cyberbullying Research Center said they had been cyberbullied at some point in their lifetimes, 8% within the last 30 days.
  • One out of every four teens has experienced cyberbullying, and about one out of every six teens has cyberbullied another.
  • Adolescent girls are more likely than boys (59% girls and 41% boys) to experience cyberbullying (as a victim and offender).
  • One million children were harassed, threatened, or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook in 2014.
  • Only 7% of U.S. parents are worried about cyberbullying, even though 33% of teenagers have been victims of cyberbullying.
  • 85% of the parents of youth ages 13-17 report their child has a social networking account.

Why Do Kids Cyberbully?

 The reasons why kids participate in cyberbullying vary. The biggest reason for cyberbullying is “to get back at someone” (58%) and because victims “deserved it” (58%), according to Internet Safety 101.

The second biggest reason for cyerbullying is “for fun or entertainment” (28%), followed by “to embarrass them” (21%).

Other reasons for cyberbullying include “to be mean” (14%) and “to show off to friends” (11%).  Some 16% of survey respondents said it was for “something else.”

Moreover, cyberbullies spend more time online than other teens overall (38.4 hours compared to 26.8 hours)

A whopping 81% of youth agree that bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person.

10 Things You Can Do When Your Child is a Victim of Cyberbullying

Below is a list of 10 steps parents can take when their child is a victim of a school cyberbully.

  1. Make sure your child is (and feels) safe. Your child’s safety and well-being is your utmost concern and should be conveyed to your child. Demonstrate support and let your child know through your words and actions that you want to bring an end to the cyberbullying.
  2. Talk with and listen to your child. Speak with your child about what is going on. Keep calm and take the time to find out the details about the incident(s).”Do not minimize the situation or make excuses for the aggressor,” according to  Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. and Justin W. Patchin, Ph. D. from the Cyberbullying Research Center.
  3. Collect evidence. Make hard copies of emails, text messages, pictures, and any other items that show proof that your child has been cyberbullied. “Keep a record of any and all incidents to assist in the investigation,” according to Hinduja and Patchin. Also, keep notes on relevant details such as location, frequency, severity of harm, third-party involvement or witnesses, and the back story.
  4. Work with the school. “All U.S. schools have a bullying policy, and most cover cyberbullying. Seek the help of teachers and administrators if the target and the aggressor are enrolled in the same school,” according to Hinduja and Patchin. Your child has the right to feel safe at school and staff and administration are responsible for ensuring your child’s safety.
  5. Refrain from contacting the parents of the bully. “Some parents, when confronted with an accusation their child is engaging in cyberbullying, may become defensive and not receptive to your thoughts,” according to Hinduja and Patchin. Try to refrain from additional drama and possible retaliation.
  6. Contact the content provider. “Cyberbullying violates the Terms of Service of all legitimate service providers (websites, apps, Internet, or cell companies),” according to Hinduja and Patchin. Even if your child can not identify the harasser, contact the relevant service provider. A list of resources can be found here.
  7. Contact the police when physical threats are involved. “Most states have laws regarding online threats, and law enforcement can assist you either formally or informally,” according to Hinduja and Patchin.
  8. If the bullying is based on race, sex, or disability, contact the Office of Civil Rights. “The U.S. Department of Education takes these cases very seriously if children are limited in their ability to learn and thrive at school because of discrimination,” according to Hinduja and Patchin.
  9. If necessary, seek counseling. “Your child may benefit from speaking with a mental health professional,” according to Hinduja and Patchin. He/she may be more open to speaking with a third-party who may be perceived as more objective to their situation.
  10. Implement measures to prevent a reoccurrence. “If your child is being bullied through social media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc.), set up privacy controls within each platform to block the bully from contacting your child and file a report (see #6),” according to Hinduja and Patchin. Also, keep dialogue open between you and your child to intervene on small events before they become large issues.

What Else Can You Do?

Bullying, both in person and online, is so prevalent in our nation’s schools that iEmpathize has created a program to help educators teach their students about empathy. Many students are at the brink of becoming a victim of human trafficking, and one more child bullying them pushes them right into the open arms of a trafficker telling them everything they need to hear.

The trafficker becomes the “friend” they so desperately need in school.

The iEmpathize program teaches children to be that kind voice a child needs to hear rather than that of a trafficker. Teaching our children to look out for and support each other rather than further victimizing a fellow classmate.

“There are three responses to the suffering of others─ apathy, sympathy, and empathy. Significant human rights violations thrive in environments where apathy, and even sympathy, prevails. When a society adopts empathy and actively responds to the cultural elements enabling abuses, however, issues like human trafficking [and bullying] can be eradicated. (from iEmpathize website)

Request the program at your next PTA meeting or speak to your schools’ superintendent to bring the curriculum to your child’s school.

Visit their website for more information.

Check out these anti-bullying videos

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