Is your son or daughter a victim of cyber bullying? Would you know it if they were? Or would they be like 90% of teenagers who wouldn’t tell their parents it was happening to them?
Cyber bullying is completely unacceptable behaviour that can take place in various ways. If it continues for a while it can lead to horrific consequences, the worst being suicide. One of the best ways to stop cyber bullying is to avoid it in the first place, but this doesn’t always work. The sooner you learn how to stop cyber bullying once it starts, and the more you understand about it, the better. Thankfully there are several ways to stop cyber bullying effectively, and we’ll cover them below.
What Are The Signs Of Cyber Bullying?
One of the problems with cyber bullying is that it’s harder to detect than physical bullying. You probably won’t find your child inflicted with bruises or other visible injuries. It’s very difficult to stop your child from being a victim of cyber bullying if you don’t know it’s happening. So the first step in knowing how to stop cyber bullying is to recognise the signs and symptoms of it.
There are several signs to look out for. Please note that there may be more symptoms in your child that are not on this list. And your child may not necessarily experience all of these things. Treat this list as a guideline of possible scenarios that should raise a red flag for you.
- Your normally chatty teenager becomes quiet and withdrawn
- He/she appears anxious when checking his/her phone and/or email for messages
- He/she is secretive when you ask about their digital activities
- Withdrawal from social and fun activities they previously enjoyed
- Mood swings
- Lack of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping – so tired most of the time (and probably grumpy!)
- Fall in grades at school for no obvious reason
- Avoiding group activities
- Unwillingness to go to school
- Seems sad or angry after being on phone or internet
Generally the longer the cyber bullying goes on, the worse or more obvious these symptoms may become.
Information About Cyber Bullying: What You Need To Know
If you see some of these symptoms in your child, it’s important to understand exactly how it can affect them. Cyber bullying is generally considered worse than physical bullying for numerous reasons.
Being an online activity it can happen anywhere at any time. It’s particularly painful when it happens at home and in other places that should be considered safe places to be. Children – as well as adults – are braver behind a screen than they are in person. They will write things online that they would never say to someone’s face, so the insults and taunts can fall to a much lower level.
Children think they are safe and able to say whatever they want to in this situation, particularly if they are anonymous (or at least if they believe this is the case). As such they won’t hold back in making someone else feel horrible.
The online world also has a lot more reach than the offline world. People can be humiliated and victimised online in front of hundreds or thousands of other people. And those being targeted don’t know who else has seen the posts or texts about them. Consequently they withdraw from others, not knowing who else has seen and possibly believed the rubbish written to or about them.
How To Stop Cyber Bullying: Your First Response
Once you become aware of what your child is being subjected to, there are several ways to stop cyber bullying. First comes the emotional response, followed by the technical response. Let’s look at the best way to respond emotionally right now.
Why Don’t Children Tell Their Parents They’re Being Bullied Online?
The reason only 10% of children will tell their parents the truth about being bullied online is because they don’t believe you’ll respond appropriately. They think you have no idea how to stop cyber bullying, and they assume you’ll do one of three things:
- Remove the technology
Children are very clever. They know that your over-reaction is most likely to make the situation worse. They fear you may remove their phone and/or internet access which will isolate them further from their friends. Or worst case, they don’t think you’ll understand or care enough to help them.
Emotional Solutions For Cyber Bullying
If all of the above responses will make the situation worse, what are the solutions for cyber bullying? Here are some ways you can help your child through this difficult time:
- Understand their pain – from the above information about cyber bullying you can imagine how awful your child might be feeling. Put yourself in their shoes and really consider what they’re going through so you can not only sympathise but better still, empathise with them
- Be a loving and supportive parent – give your child a hug, and tell them you love them. Console them. Let them know that together you can fix this: that you will help to stop the cyber bullying, and that they have your full support no matter what
- Remind them who they are – you child might have forgotten how great they are, and might be starting to believe some of the nasty things the cyber bully is saying about them. Point out their strengths in personality, and highlight some of the things they’re good at
- Talk about something funny – it may not seem like the time for laughter, but as per most physical injuries or illnesses, laughter really is the best medicine. Lighten the mood by talking about something funny or silly that happened in the past. The aim is to take some of their attention away from the problem so that it doesn’t dominate their mind completely
How To Stop Cyber Bullying: Your Next Response
After your initial emotional response to the cyber bullying, and probably after a good night’s sleep if at all possible, it’s time to deal with the technical ways to stop cyber bullying from happening. Here are the next steps to take:
Save The Evidence
Whilst your first reaction might just be to delete everything the cyber-bully has sent or written about your child, this is a mistake. Certainly there’s no need to read the messages again and again, however you need the evidence so that you can take affirmative action. Take screenshots of relevant web pages, and keep messages on your child’s phone for the time being.
Report Messages If They Are Illegal
Nasty messages are not usually against the law, but if the cyber bully has crossed the line by sending believable threats to your child, or inappropriate sexual messages, then this is a matter for the police.
Cyber bullies do not usually target one child and leave it at that. If they’re forced to leave your child alone, they’ll simply move on to their next victim. That is of course unless you stop them. By keeping the evidence of the insidious behaviour you may have the power to stop the cyber bully from re-offending, which is the best possible solution to cyber bullying.
No child deserves to fall victim to a cyber bully, and if we don’t take a tough stance against these children the situation will only become more and more common. If the cyber bully has not written or posted anything illegal, then evidence of their activities should be reported to their school. Your child is probably not the only one being targeted by the bullying child, and the school can take action as required.
Block The Cyber Bully
One of the good things about technology is that to a certain extent, you can stop people you don’t like from reaching you. There are three ways to stop cyber bullying in terms of removing access to your child:
- Block the bully’s mobile phone number
- Block their email address
- Delete them from social media sites
If your child has been bullied on social media sites or other websites, you can also report the behavior to the relevant website administrators, and/or the internet service providers.
Other Solutions For Cyber Bullying
In addition to all of the advice above, there are other ways to help your child move on from the harmful effects of cyber bullying. With your support you can effectively help your child in many ways, as follows.
Don’t Dwell On It
A cyber bully wants their victim to suffer. They want them to believe the nasty posts and comments they write, and putting their victim down somehow makes the bully feel more powerful. The more a victim reads and re-reads the torments, the more they may start to believe in it and the worse they feel. Consequently then it follows that your child can deny the bully of their power by doing the opposite.
Once the evidence has been recorded it’s time to delete the messages. Help your child to understand that the comments are not true, that they never were and they never will be. Cyber bullying is not about the victim, it’s about the bully trying to assert power, probably to help them with their own issues.
Get Help If Needed
If your child is having difficulty recovering from the effects of the cyber bullying, tell them it’s a sign of strength to ask for help. Talking about it is always better than bottling it up inside. Your child should feel safe and be encouraged to talk to you, another parent or adult, a teacher and/or a counselor.
Engage In Positive Behaviour
The more your child has fun doing things they love, the less significance the cyber bullying will have. Encourage them to spend time with their good friends (who obviously don’t engage in bullying), play sports, do hobbies, and engage in any other physical activities they enjoy.
Learn Techniques To Handle Stress
If you’re looking hard to find a positive aspect to cyber bullying – and it does take some serious searching – it could be seen as an opportunity to become stronger and more resilient. It takes enormous emotional strength, particular for a child or teenager, to face adversity and come out of it stronger.
Techniques like meditation, physical exercise, breathing, yoga, and positive self-talk are all effective in managing stress and improving they way your child feels. These techniques are invaluable throughout life so it can’t hurt to learn them sooner than later.
Knowing The Ways To Stop Cyber Bullying Is Invaluable
In some ways it would be nice to daydream about a world without social media, mobile phones, the internet and all the issues these technologies have brought about. But not only is the technology we use increasing at a rapid rate, there’s no denying that some of the benefits it brings are huge. Rather than turning a blind eye to the very real risks out there, or living in fear of your child becoming the target of a cyber bully, it’s better to know that there are several ways to stop cyber bullying. Once you take the time to learn how to stop cyber bullying, you can see from this article that there are answers to this problem. Save this article in your favourites so that the solutions for cyber bullying remain fresh in your mind…just in case.