Protecting Your Children From Cyberbullying

Your child may be the victim of a new and pervasive type of bullying – one that follows them no matter where they go. Cyberbullying, or bullying via the internet and other digital channels, is a new trend that, unfortunately, is taking America’s teens by storm. If your child is a victim, he or she may be receiving threatening messages nonstop, at all hours of the day and night, from multiple other teenagers – all without your knowledge, courtesy of the internet. Email, instant messaging, text messaging, and social networking websites are all used by the bullies to tarnish your child’s name, send threats, and generally make them feel unsafe.

If you are afraid that your child is or may become a victim of cyberbullying, here are a few guidelines to follow to ensure their safety.

Teach your child not to respond to rude or harassing emails. Responding will only escalate the situation. Instead, teach them to print the email, and tell you about it. You can then report the threat to law enforcement, as well as your internet service provider (ISP). These agencies can then take appropriate action.

If you are unsure of acronyms or cyber-slang that is used in the threatening emails, look it up to be sure you understand what is being said.

If your child continues to receive threats via email, have them delete their current email account. Let them set up a new one, but caution them to only give the email address out to true friends and people that they can trust. Teach them to use the block user function in both email and Instant Message programs to block anyone who is threatening or insulting them.

If the bullies have set up a profile on a social networking site, or an actual website insulting your child, contact the site itself or the hosting provider, and get law enforcement involved. Often, they have pull where you may not, and can get the site removed.

If possible, be sure to press charges against the child or children involved for harassment. It is important that they realize the threat they are posing to your child and your family, and they will not stop until someone (YOU) stops them.

If your child is the victim of cyberbullying, they may be in more pain than you realize. People that they thought were their friends have turned against them, and are spreading rumors and threats about them 24 hours per day. They may feel that they have nowhere to turn. It is your job to convince them that you can help, and then act to do so. Don’t hesitate to involve your child’s school, local law enforcement, and your Internet Service Provider. Cyberbullying is a serious offense, and should carry serious consequences.

Have a great day!

Lawrence