5 Things To Do If Your Child Is Being Cyber Bullied – Keeping Kids Safe Online

During a Chief Technology Mommy Workshop I met a couple that recently found out that their daughter was being cyber bullied via text messaging.  A few weeks ago the parents noticed a change in their daughter’s behavior, but she assured them that everything was fine.  Fortunately the mom noticed her daughter’s constant attachment to her phone, and decided to take a look.  The parents were amazed at the content of the messages, and decided to take action.   When their daughter found out that her parents were going to report the incident, she told them that the kids in school would be mad at her for telling and then she wouldn’t have any friends.

In an effort to shield their daughter from further grief, they decided to erase the text messages and ignore the cyber bullying, however the texts kept coming and the language turned graphic and violent.   Later that week the bully kept her word, and lured the young girl into an “offline” physical confrontation.

As a mom of a teen I totally understand not wanting to see your child alienated at school, but as these parents learned, persistent bullying could take a turn for the worse…quickly.   Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.”  The bully not only stated what she was going to do, she acted on it.  Luckily this incident did not end in physical tragedy, but it was definitely headed that way.

5 Tips on what to if your child is being cyber bullied:

1.  Have a conversation with your child in an effort to help them understand that being bullied is not their fault.  It is very important to keep your child’s self-esteem intact, and assist them in not allowing other people’s perception to become their truth.  There have been many stories of teens committing suicide because they believed what other people said about them.  It’s important for your child to understand that they are wonderful, just the way they are.
2.  Have a conversation with your child about the importance of addressing the bullying.  It is important to listen to your child’s concerns and allow them to have their voice heard as it relates to reporting the issue.  Including your child in the conversation and decision making process, empowers them and will hopefully give them the courage to honor themselves by agreeing to report the incident.  I have also witnessed first hand how this type of tough decision, can positively impact your child’s overall “life” decision making process.
3.   Never erase the bullying messages, as you will want to “show” the evidence to the appropriate person.  Save the bullying messages, forward them to another device, or print them for your records.  Depending on the nature of the bullying you may need to provide the messages for further investigation.
4.   Depending on the seriousness of the bullying, decide whom you should contact about the incident.  My rule of thumb is to never confront the bully, as it often times brings more tension and no solution.    If the bullying happens at school or between classmates, work through this with the principal or administrator.  Depending on the nature of the relationship, it may be a good idea to get the parents involved.   If the bullying speaks to physical violence, you may want to get the authorities involved.
5.   Make sure your child has a safe place to land.  Unfortunately their could be retaliation where other kids will no longer want to be friends with your child, therefore it is important that they know that you are there for them.  Something as simple as getting them involved in activities involving other children, could open them up to an entirely different friend base which cold soften the blow and cause them to understand that cyber bullying does not have to be there reality.

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