Cyberbullying is on the rise and many experts believe it is something that many of our children will have to deal with in their adolescence.The latest cyberbullying statistics reveal that a quarter of youngsters under 18 with a presence on social media have experienced something upsetting online.
Many parents feel that they don’t have the answers or even know what to say to their children because it is such a new thing and not something we had to deal with when we were growing up. The problem is that it is such a huge issue for our young children because this form of bullying is so invasive and consumes so much of their lives that we really do need to give them the tools to help them deal with it. This guide will help you understand cyberbullying and give you some tips for helping your young person deal with the situation if they are a victim.
Tips for Dealing with Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is on the rise and many experts believe it is something that many of our children will have to deal with in their adolescence. Many parents feel that they don’t have the answers or even know what to say to their children because it is such a new thing and not something we had to deal with when we were growing up. The problem is that it is such a huge issue for our young children because this form of bullying is so invasive and consumes so much of their lives that we really do need to give them the tools to help them deal with it. This guide will help you understand cyberbullying and give you some tips for helping your young person deal with the situation if they are a victim.
What is Cyberbullying?
You’ve probably heard the term on the news but do you understand what cyberbullying actually is? Put in simple terms, it is bullying that is carried out through the use of technology. It’s emails, text messages, social media posts, it is a type of bullying that is difficult to get away from and so there is often no respite for the victim. Bullying can take the form of nasty, sometimes threatening messages, spreading unflattering pictures of a person on social media, or spreading rumours about the victim through online messaging systems. They are often fierce and calculated attacks that can have disastrous consequences for the victim.
What to say to your Child if they are a Victim
Finding out that your child is a victim of cyberbullying is heart-wrenching, but you need to remember that this is a time that they require you to be strong for them. The best thing that you can do is try and offer them immediate comfort by saying the right things to them. Here is our list of what a bullying victim might need to hear once they confess their trauma to you.
Make sure they know it’s not their fault.
As a victim of bullying, they might well believe that it is because something is wrong with them, let them know that there isn’t, the fault lies well and truly with the bully.
Tell them that you are grateful that they’ve come to you for help.
Let them know that now you aware, you will back them all the way. You are on their side and will work with them to stop the bullying.
Really listen to your child.
You will need to spend a lot of time listening to your child and their version of events before you decide what course of action to take together, don’t just rush in and try and take action yourself. Remember, that your child’s self-esteem is likely to be significantly damaged by what has happened to them, you will need to be there just to listen to them for a long time to come to help repair that damage.
What action should you take to stop cyberbullying?
If your child has confessed to you that they are a victim of cyberbullying, you should really consider yourself lucky because many young people do try and hide it from their parents. You might not feel lucky at the time as you face the considerable problem of dealing with the fallout, but at least you are in a position to really help your child rather than them suffering alone. Here are the things that you should do to shut down the bullying and help your child deal with the aftermath.
Tell them to stop all communication from their end
They may have been responding to the bullies, which often only makes the situation worse. Tell them not to respond in any way.
Make sure that you capture all the evidence in case you need to go to someone in school or to the police.
Coach your child by asking the bully to stop
They should only attempt this if they feel really comfortable with it but sometimes, if they are strong enough to tell a person that they won’t put up with their behaviour anymore it can put a stop to it.
Make sure they’ve used all the available tech tools
Have they blocked the bully from the social media pages? Reported posts where there is harassment? If there are threats of physical harm make sure you call the police as well as involving your child’s school. Also makes sure that they protected their passwords. If bullies can figure these out they might well use it to impersonate the victim online.
Plan your response with your child
Often you will need to take some sort of action to stop the bullying. Whether that’s involving the police if there are threats of physical violence, going to your child’s school, or speaking to the parents of the bully. Remember that whatever action you take, it will be your child who likely has to deal with the aftermath as they go about their life at school. Talk through potential responses with them and plan what you will do together. Fill them in on any private conversations that you have had to have and always seek their perspective before you speak to anybody.
Remember, it will be OK in the end
There’s no getting away from the fact that bullying is awful and that it can ruin lives. However, with some help young people can find the strength to overcome it. By doing this, they can find a hidden power inside themselves that they probably didn’t know they had, resilience. This resilience will help them deal so much better with the challenges that life might throw at them and it might help them become a much stronger person than they ever thought they could be. Give them space and time, while letting them know that you have their back and you never know, it might just be that this one, albeit incredibly tough time, actually sets them up for life.