Ignore the message. Don’t ignore the problem.
The NetSmartz® Workshop advocates three simple rules for children facing cyberbullies.
- Don’t respond to the message.
- Save the evidence.
- Tell a trusted adult.
Educate. Engage. Empower.
Educate your children about cyberbullying.
- Start a dialogue at home. Make sure your children understand what is considered cyberbullying and what isn’t.
- Talk about the possible effects and consequences of cyberbullying.
- Focus on prevention methods they may not have considered, such as not posting personal information or provocative photos that someone could use against them, and not sharing passwords with friends.
- Take it seriously! Sometimes sticks and stones matter, so discuss feelings of guilt or depression resulting from the incident.
- Explore various ways to handle the situation, including counseling if necessary.
- Consider enacting a mediation plan utilizing school counselors; the issue may be resolved with a bit of intervention.
- Encourage your children to start an awareness group at school or online to educate their peers about cyberbullying.
- Get the school involved. Just because it happens at home does not mean the school can’t help. Encourage your children to learn about their school’s cyberbullying policy and urge administrators to take a stand against all forms of bullying.
- Let your children tell you about their experiences online; Internet safety experts can’t tell their stories better than they can.
What to look for: Signs of Cyberbullying
- Avoids the computer, cell phone, and other technological devices or appears stressed when receiving an e-mail, instant message, or text
- Withdraws from family and friends, or acts reluctant to attend school and social events
- Avoids conversations about computer use
- Exhibits signs of low self-esteem including depression and/or fear
- Grades begin to decline
- Lack of eating or sleeping
What to look for: Signs your Child is a Cyberbully
- Has been involved in bullying incidents at school or has been the target of bullies in the past.
- Avoids conversations about their computer and cell phone activities
- Quickly switches screens or closes programs when you walk by the computer
- Laughs excessively while using the computer or cell phone
- Uses multiple online accounts, or an account that is not their own
- Spends an unusual amount of time using the computer or cell phone
- Becomes upset when access to the computer or cell phone is denied
Start a Discussion with your Children
- Why do you think people harass or cyberbully?
- How would harassment make you feel? Have you ever felt that way?
- Have you ever sent an e-mail, text, or an IM out of anger?
- How would you react if someone created a fake profile mocking a peer on a social networking site?
- How can you prevent yourself from being cyberbullied?
Reprinted with the permission of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. © 2008 National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. All rights reserved.