Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or targetanother person. By definition, it occurs among young people. When an adult isinvolved, it may meet the definition of cyber-harassment or cyber-stalking, acrime that can have legal consequences and involve jail time.Sometimes cyberbullying can be easy to spot — for example, if your child showsyou a text message, tweet, or response to a status update on Facebook that isharsh, mean, or cruel. Other acts are less obvious, like impersonating a victimonline or posting personal information, photos, or videos designed to hurt orembarrass another person. Some kids report that a fake account, web page, oronline persona has been created with the sole intention to harass and bully.Cyberbullying also can happen accidentally. The impersonal nature of textmessages, IMs, and emails make it very hard to detect the senders tone — onepersons joke could be anothers hurtful insult. Nevertheless, a repeated patternof emails, text messages, and online posts is rarely accidental.
Efects of cyberbullyingNo longer limited to schoolyards or street corners, modern-day bullying canhappen at home as well as at school — essentially 24 hours a day. As long askids have access to a phone, computer, or other device (such as an I Touch),they are at risk.Severe or chronic cyberbullying can leave victims at greater risk for anxiety,depression, and other stress-related disorders. In some rare but highlypublicized cases, some kids have turned to suicide.The punishment for cyberbullies can include being suspended from school orkicked off of sports teams. Certain types of cyberbullying also may violateschool codes or even anti-discrimination or sexual harassment laws.
How Parents Can HelpIf you discover that your child is being cyberbullied, talk to him or her about any experiences you havehad in your childhood. This can help your child feel less alone. Let your child know that its not his orher fault, and that bullying says more about the bully than the victim. Talking to teachers or schooladministrators also may help, but take cues from your child.Many schools, school districts, and after-school clubs have established protocols for responding tocyberbullying; these vary by district and state. But before reporting the problem, let your child knowthat you plan to do so, as he or she could have concerns about "tattling" and might prefer that theproblem be handled privately.Other measures to try:Block the bully. Most devices have settings that allow you to electronically block emails, IMs, or textmessages from specific people.Limit access to technology. Although its hurtful, many kids who are bullied cant resist the temptationto check websites or phones to see if there are new messages. Keep the computer in a public place inthe house (no laptops in childrens bedrooms, for example) and limit the use of cell phones and games.Some companies allow you to turn off text messaging services during certain hours. And, mostwebsites and phones provide the option for parental controls, which provide parents with access totheir children’s messages and online life.Know your kids online world. Check their postings and the sites kids visit, and be aware of how theyspend their time online. Talk to them about the importance of privacy and why its a bad idea to sharepersonal information online, even with friends. Encourage them to safeguard passwords. Write up cellphone and social media contracts that you are willing to enforce.Look to the web for resource and support information about cyberbullying.If your son or daughter agrees, you may also arrange for mediation with a therapist or counselor atschool who can work with your child and/or the bully.
When Your Child Is the BullyFinding out that your kid is the one who is behaving inappropriately can be upsetting andheartbreaking. Its important to address the problem head on and not wait for it to go away.Talk to your child firmly about his or her actions and explain the negative impact it has on others.Joking and teasing might seem OK, but it can hurt peoples feelings and lead to getting in trouble.Bullying — in any form — is unacceptable; there can be serious (and sometimes irrevocable)consequences at home, school, and in the community if it continues.Remind your child that the use of cell phones and computers is a privilege. Sometimes it helps torestrict the use of these devices until behavior improves. If you feel your child should have a cellphone for safety reasons, make sure it is a phone that can only be used for emergency purposes.Insist on strict parental controls on all devices if there is any history of your child making impulsivedecisions when they are online.To get to the heart of the matter, sometimes talking to teachers, guidance counselors, and otherschool officials can help identify situations that lead a kid to bully others. If your child has troublemanaging anger, talk to a therapist about helping your son or daughter learn to cope with anger,hurt, frustration, and other strong emotions in a healthy way.Professional counseling often helps kids learn to deal with their feelings and improve theirconfidence and social skills, which in turn can reduce the risk of bullying. If youre tech-savvyyourself, model good online habits to help your kids understand the benefits and the dangers of lifein the digital world.
How Are Teens Cyberbullied?Being a victim of cyberbullying can be a common and painful experience. Someyouth who cyberbullyPretend they are other people online to trick othersSpread lies and rumors about victimsTrick people into revealing personal informationSend or forward mean text messagesPost pictures of victims without their consentWhen teens were asked why they think others cyberbully, 81 percent saidthat cyberbullies think it’s funny. Other teens believe that youth who cyberbullyDon’t think it’s a big dealDon’t think about the consequencesAre encouraged by friendsThink everybody cyberbulliesThink they won’t get caught
How Do Victims React?Contrary to what cyberbullies may believe, cyberbullying is a big deal, and can cause avariety of reactions in teens. Some teens have reacted in positive ways to try toprevent cyberbullying byBlocking communication with the cyberbullyDeleting messages without reading themTalking to a friend about the bullyingReporting the problem to an Internet service provider or website moderatorMany youth experience a variety of emotions when they are cyberbullied. Youth whoare cyberbullied report feeling angry, hurt, embarrassed, or scared. These emotionscan cause victims to react in ways such asSeeking revenge on the bullyAvoiding friends and activitiesCyberbullying backSome teens feel threatened because they may not know who is cyberbullying them.Although cyberbullies may think they are anonymous, they can be found. If youare cyberbullied or harassed and need help, save all communication withthe cyberbully and talk to a parent, teacher, law enforcement officer, or other adultyou trust.
How Can I Prevent Cyber bullying?Teens have figured out ways to prevent cyber bullying. Follow in the footsteps of otherquick-thinking teens andRefuse to pass along cyber bullying messagesTell friends to stop cyber bullyingBlock communication with cyber bulliesReport cyber bullying to a trusted adultYou can also help prevent cyber bullying bySpeaking with other students, as well as teachers and school administrators, to developrules against cyber bullyingRaising awareness of the cyber bullying problem in your community by holding anassembly and creating fliers to give to younger kids or parentsSharing NCPC’s anti-cyber bullying message with friendsDon’t forget that even though you can’t see a cyber bully or the bully’s victim, cyberbullying causes real problems. If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online.Delete cyber bullying. Don’t write it. Don’t forward it.
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