Cyberbullying: What Every Parent Needs to Know to Protect Their Child
By Laura Pearson
As a parent, nothing makes you more upset than when someone harms your child. Inevitably, when anything negatively impacts your kid, you’re torn between a range of emotions that make you want to lash out, yet set a positive example they can follow. We want to protect our kids from so many things, and bullying is usually somewhere at the top of the list.
Bullying happens every 7 minutes, and usually a heart-breaking 85% of the bullied student’s peers don’t step up to intervene. Moreover, only 4 in 100 adults will do anything to help the situation. That’s why it is important that parents are equipped with information that will prepare our kids for the worst-case scenario, while doing our best to prevent it from ever happening. Here are a few things you need to know about cyberbullying and what you can do to help:
Signs That Your Child is Experiencing Cyberbullying
If you notice any of these behavioral signs from your child, consider asking them if they are facing a cyber bully:
- Sudden bouts of anger while engaging in internet activity
- Unexplainable negative behavior issues at school or in social settings
- Notable anxiety when receiving messages on social media or through texting
- Obvious attempts to hide a mobile device or noticeable change in parental privacy settings on device accounts
In the past, a bully was easy to identify because it was typically a physical, face-to-face interaction. Nowadays bullies harm others through the internet, hiding silently behind a computer or phone screen. In many cases, no one else may ever know about their actions except for the student being bullied. If you suspect your child is the victim of a cyber bully, begin an open conversation with them about their situation. In your conversations or in the child’s wording, listen for possibility of microaggressions. There are three specific types that can be a telltale sign that your child is being bullied online.
- Microassaults involve the use of words and pictures that attack the victim’s ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
- Microinsults are the insulting comments that aim to oppose the victim’s heritage as a whole, rather than them personally.
- Microinvalidation is when the bully dismisses another child’s troubles as invalid.
Keep in mind that not everyone who uses these microaggressions means to inflict harm. But through your conversation with your child, you will likely be able to tell if there is a bully using these methods to deliberately hurt them.
Helping Your Child Overcome the Issue
Every child longs for affirmation from their parents. One of the most powerful ways you can combat the devastating impacts of bullying is to continuously encourage your child in their true identity. Help them pursue their passions, and remind them who they really are and provide a home environment that makes them feel safe and loved. These deeply established roots in their life will go a long way in their overall emotional healing process.
Along with tending to your child, address the source of the bullying. If the bullying child is a student at your child’s school, speak to the teacher or school administrator about setting up a mediation meeting with the parents of the bully. Also, explore the account settings on social media platforms and teach your child how to block a harmful user or change who can see their activities.
You are the first defense your child has against cyberbullying. Your words and actions will hold merit with your child and can help make a positive social difference in their life. No child should fear a cyber bully attack when they know their parents have their back.