Helpful Tips to Deal with Cyber Bullying
Cyber bullying is a form of bullying that occurs either online, through social media, via text or using any other method of digital communication.
In 2014, 52% of young people reported being cyber bullied (www.nobullying,com). That’s a lot of bullying going on.
Now, nobody wants to think about their children being bullied, much less the thought that they themselves could be the bully, but in this digital age it is increasingly likely. So what do you do if you discover that your child is being cyber bullied, or is bullying someone else?
If Your Child is Being Bullied
First, talk to your child; what is the root of the bullying? Is it a spat with friends or is it something more serious? Once this is established, create a plan of action.
If it’s a fall out with friends, encourage them to talk to each other face-to-face to see if they can solve the problem together- offer a safe space for them to talk on neutral ground and make the other parents aware of the situation so they can deal with it appropriately at their end. It’s also a good idea to let your child’s school know, as they can keep an eye on all parties while they’re in the school’s care.
This may resolve the situation, however the situation may be far more serious than a falling out with friends, in which case more drastic action will need to be taken.
Part of the big problem with cyber bullying is that it usually takes place over a range of mediums and so is hard to stop.
It’s difficult, but encourage your child not to engage with any unwanted behaviour and to block and report the profiles instead so that they can no longer make contact; you may also want to consider changing your child’s phone number if the abuse is happening via text or call.
In really severe cases, it’s definitely worth reporting cyber bullying to the police as it can constitute harassment, which is a criminal offence.
If Your Child Is Bullying Someone
Research suggests that around 10-20% of kids will cyber bully someone at some point, so you’re far from alone.
The first thing is to tend to your feelings- discovering your child is bullying someone can be very emotionally challenging, but these are best dealt with before you try and confront your child, or you run the risk of creating an argument, making it less likely that the problem will be resolved.
When you do sit your child down to discuss the situation with them, the best angle is to make them aware that you know, and ask them to explain their side of the story. Linda Criddle, of iLookBothWays.com, says, ‘Try to listen to your child without judgment, blame, or attempting to jump in and "solve" it. Ask questions to discover how long the cyberbullying has been going on, the names of their victim(s), the names of anyone else involved, and the forms of cyberbullying used. If there is evidence of the cyberbullying - text messages, posts, websites, etc. - have your child show these to you and save this documentation should it be needed.’
You may well be able to solve the situation as a family unit, which really, is ideal. But there’s no single solution as every child and situation is different, and you may need to involve your child’s school, and the parents of the bullied child may well have contacted the authorities, which you will all need to be prepared for.
It’s important that your child has consequences for their actions, but it’s arguably even more important that they undertake some form of damage limitation, make amends and apologize to their victim(s) for the damage they may have caused; how this is done is up to you both and it may be wise to let your child come up with a solution to this problem on their own.
Finding out your child is being bullied, or is a bully, is difficult and heart wrenching, but there is support available for all parties and you’re most definitely not alone. By supporting your child and encouraging them to solve the problem themselves, you are helping them to make the best decisions for their own futures.