Trudging between childhood and adulthood – that’s what teens are going through. With all the changes they’ve been experiencing, it’s natural for them to get emotionally stressed. This makes it all the more important for parents to intervene when cyberbullying happens. If you find yourself thinking: my child is being cyberbullied, here’s what you can do.
Cyberbullying, an overview
Cyberbullying happens when someone uses technology to target, harass, or threaten another individual. People can cyberbully anyone through blogs, social media accounts, and video-sharing networks.
A common form of cyberbullying is when someone sends hurtful, embarrassing, or derogatory comments through personal messages and public posts. The remarks can focus on anything: from the victim’s gender preference, religion, race, and physical appearance.
Sometimes, cyberbullying can be so severe that it progresses into a crime. For instance, spreading unfounded rumors online can be considered libel. This means that you can involve the authorities.
How do I know if my child is being cyberbullied?
Your child may be a victim of cyberbullying if they:
- Refuse to go to school and start having lower grades
- Don’t want to see their friends or partake in previously-enjoyed social activities.
- Avoid social gatherings
- Look upset, worried, or scared when they go online
- Stop whatever they are doing online once you get near them
- Spend more time online than usual, or stop using their gadgets altogether.
Spotting the following emotional cues is also essential. Teens who experience cyberbullying may have:
- Lack of appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Apparent changes in their behavior
- Anger issues at home
- Complaints of feeling sick (headache, abdominal pain, etc.)
If you spot these signs in your teenager, encourage them to open up. Assure them you’ll be there to help them with their concerns, be it cyberbullying or another issue.
My child is a victim of cyberbullying – How can I intervene?
In case you determined that your child is being cyberbullied, here are the steps to take:
Thank them for opening up to you and listen to what they have to say.
Encourage them to tell you what’s happening, when it started, who is involved, and how they feel about it. Every detail is crucial because you need to know whether there’s an actual threat to your child.
To put it in context, the interventions for a classmate who seems to be taking jokes too far are most likely different if your child is a victim of an online stalker.
Some kids get worried about opening up in fear of losing their gadget privileges. So, if they tell you that it’s important for them to use their devices, emphasize that you’ll work a way around it.
Never blame them for what’s happening and assure them that you are there for them
As much as you want to reassure them that everything will be alright, try not to dismiss what they feel. Furthermore, don’t blame them; even if they think they might have done something that brought the bullying on. Cyberbullying is not justifiable.
It’ll take a huge load off their shoulders to know that you are behind them. Give your assurance that you would help fix the situation.
Gather as much “evidence” as you can
If your child is being cyberbullied, it’s a good idea to save evidence. This step is handy if the bullies won’t stop, no matter how much you intervene.
In cases where the culprit is a schoolmate, the evidence can be used for the school’s investigation.
Report the bullying – online and offline
Is the bullying taking place on a social media platform? If yes, take advantage of their “report” feature. Should the administrator find the comments or messages abusive, they may block the bully from using the platform.
Moreover, report the bullying to the authorities. In most cases, the bullies involved are from the same school, so talking to your child’s adviser is necessary. From there, the discipline committee might conduct an investigation and issue appropriate sanctions.
If the bully is a neighbor, you can report the incidences to the barangay. Reporting to the police may also be necessary if your child receives threats. That way, you’ll have the opportunity to talk to the bully (and their parents, if they are also a child) in the presence of an authority figure.
Ask your child to “walk away” from the bully
Your child may find it tempting to retaliate, but talk them out of it, especially if authorities are already involved. Instruct your teenager to avoid confrontation, and of course, to block the bullies online.
Continue to monitor your teenager
Once all is said and done, continue to monitor your child. Doing this is crucial to check if the bullying has stopped or it’s persisting.
Additionally, even if the cyberbullying stops, the effects on your child may continue to manifest. If your teenager continues to appear distressed, talking to a doctor or therapist is a must.
Learn more about Adolescent’s Mental Health here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.