As unfortunate as it is, bullying and cyberbullying are more common than you may think. Understanding how to put an end to bullying is crucial, as about 20% of students in the 12-18 age range reported experiencing bullying in school in 2017. Numerous adults and students would benefit from hearing concrete strategies for combating bullying. The good news is that there are actions you can take to counteract bullying that is more likely to succeed than fail.
If your child reports being bullied, listen without showing shock or surprise. You can take steps to protect your child and stop bullying, whether your child is the bully, the victim, or a witness.
If Your Child Is Being Bullied
- Maintain your composure and inquire about the situation with open-ended questions. Your child may misinterpret your expressions of anger as being directed at them instead of the bullying situation.
- Don’t try to solve the problem by contacting the bully’s parents immediately. Assist your kid in coming up with a strategy to end bullying.
- If possible, you should try to keep your bullied child away from your child or prevent your child from being alone with him (or her).
- Make sure your kid knows who to go to if they need help. Educators, counselors, coaches, and bus drivers all fit this description.
- To the extent that he feels safe doing so, encourage your child to tell the bully child to stop. If he feels unsafe or uncomfortable speaking up, he should find an adult for assistance in stopping the bullying.
- Help your kid learn and practice upbeat body language. This includes presenting an assertive posture, making direct eye contact, and speaking in a loud, clear, and confident tone. If you want someone to stop bothering you, you can use the “I want” statement. “I want you to leave me alone.”
- Young bullies frequently target children who they believe to be weaker, different from the group, or unable to defend themselves. If possible, it’s best to have your child avoid coming into contact with a bully on his own by having him find a friend or stay with a group.
- So that your kid doesn’t feel alone, look for books and movies where the main character is being bullied.
- Your child will benefit from having friends at school and in the wider community, so encourage them to reach out to others.
- Talk to your kid’s teachers about the issue and see if you can come up with any ideas. It’s not always obvious to educators whether or not a student is being bullied.
- Find out what the school’s policy is regarding bullying. If the situation is not resolved, don’t be shy about talking to the school counselor or even the principal.
- Carefully consider your approach before approaching the parents of the bully’s child. If you know the person and feel confident that you can have a fruitful conversation and solve the issue, this may be a viable option. This may not be the best approach if you don’t know the parents or think the conversation might upset you or them.
If Your Child Engages in Bullying Behavior
Having your child’s unkindness pointed out to you can be a shocking and upsetting experience for any parent. Do your best to keep your cool and pay attention to the person who is providing you with information. Let them know you’re going to investigate, have a talk with your kid, and take immediate action if necessary.
- Find out if there is anyone your child doesn’t get along with at school and why by inquiring about it with your kid.
- Communicate with your kid about how he’s feeling. Determine the source of his stress or worries and think about ways you can alleviate them. Get a trusted adult to have this conversation with your kid if you can’t handle it. Discussing this with a member of his family, his doctor, or a counselor could be helpful.
- Locate responsible adults who can offer assistance to bullied students. Talk to your kid’s educator, guidance counselor, or principal to figure out how to put a stop to bullying.
- Model appropriate coping mechanisms for your child to use when they feel the need to express anger or anxiety. One such strategy is to step away from the situation and collect one’s thoughts.
- Instill in your child the value of apologizing and accepting responsibility for his mistakes. No amount of coercion is going to make someone apologize. If your child has been unkind to someone, it is important to stress that he should offer an apology in person when doing so is appropriate.
- Make it clear that rudeness and other forms of cruelty are strictly prohibited. Establish repercussions, and make sure they are actually enforced.
Cyberbullying: A Better Understanding
Cyberbullying, or bullying conducted via electronic means, is on the rise in today’s society. About 15% of students in grades 9-12 reported being bullied online or via text message, according to the 2017 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice).
Because it occurs in the digital realm, cyberbullying frequently takes place behind the perpetrator’s back. Instances of cyberbullying may include:
- In the realm of social media (Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter).
- Via electronic message.
- Using a messaging app.
- Communication is via electronic mail.
- When using a game or app server.
How does cyberbullying manifest itself?
When someone posts or shares false or malicious information about another person online, they are engaging in cyberbullying. This can take the form of showing or telling someone embarrassing or humiliating private photos or information. It is often a crime to engage in cyberbullying, though the specifics depend on the ages of the parties involved and the nature of the information exchanged.
Addressing the Problem of Cyberbullying
Because cyberbullying occurs in virtual spaces, it frequently escapes guardians’ attention. Is your child being cyberbullied? How can you tell?
Some potential red flags for cyberbullying are:
- Not being able to get to sleep.
- Shifts in disposition, withdrawal from activities once enjoyed, or a pronounced increase or decrease in tech use are all red flags.
- Rapidly powering down laptops, closing browser windows, or concealing electronic equipment.
- Using excuses like illness or absence to avoid attending class.
- Grades are dropping.
Reducing the Impact of Online Harassment
Cyberbullying can be avoided if people just watch out for each other online. By keeping an eye on your kid’s online activity, you can help him avoid potentially harmful influences. For instance:
- Your child will feel more comfortable confiding in you about their online experiences if you maintain an open dialogue about their internet and social media use.
- Have a family discussion about acceptable online conduct and establish ground rules. Children shouldn’t give out their names, addresses, or phone numbers online. Remind kids that they shouldn’t post anything they wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
- Keep tabs on what your kid is doing online and in what apps across all their devices.
- If your child uses a mobile device, check and reset its location and privacy settings.
- Learn the lingo kids and teens use on the internet and keep up with the newest apps and social media sites.
- Find out your kid’s email, gaming, texting, and social media logins and passwords.
- You should keep an eye on your teen’s social media activity if they have an account. Keep in mind that many teenagers have multiple accounts on each social media platform, and follow your child or add them as friends to keep tabs on them.
- You should think about using the device’s parental controls to limit your child’s daily screen time. Free software and mobile apps are available to assist parents in regulating their children’s online experience by restricting access to inappropriate material, blocking access to specific websites, or monitoring what their children are doing while online.
If your kid is being cyberbullied, how can you help them?
If you have reason to believe your child has been the target of cyberbullying, it’s important to learn as much as you can about the situation. Having more information about bullying makes it easier to end the harassment.
- Just have a chat with your kid. Find out what happened and who was involved by asking questions. If a child is being cyberbullied, the first and most important thing they can do is to tell an adult.
- You should see any abusive or threatening messages your child has received. If the threat involves violence or a crime, call the police.
- Please encourage your child to ignore cyberbullying. Although it may be difficult, ignoring online bullies is a great way to neutralize their threat. An angry response will only make the situation worse.
- Always report bullying to your school or social media platform and, if possible, block the bully. Every service allows users to flag inappropriate posts for review and possible removal.
- It is a good idea to record all interactions with the person and keep copies in case further intervention is required, such as legal action or action taken by the school.
- Have a conversation with your kid to find out how you can help stop cyberbullying and what he thinks will work best. With cyberbullying, your kid has no say in the matter. You’re giving him back some power by letting him participate in finding the answer.
- It’s crucial that you take immediate action after you and your child have decided what needs to be done so that he knows you can and will support him through this.
- If you suspect a classmate is a cyberbully, talk to the school.
- The effects of cyberbullying may worsen over time. You should advocate for your child until you find someone who can help, whether it be the school, the application platform, or the police, if the steps you and your child decide to take do not stop the cyberbullying.
Honest conversation about bullying is crucial to putting an end to the problem.
Maintain an open conversation with your child. Send him a text every so often to see how his day went or inquire about his lunch companions. Investigate the spectators at your kid’s games and practices. Inquire about his offline and online friendships and how he feels about his place in the school community.
If your children have an open line of communication with you, you will be better able to spot any changes in their disposition or conduct. When a child sees that their parent is interested and willing to listen, he will feel more comfortable approaching you with his problems.
Remember that you are not alone; many parents have dealt with cyberbullying, and things can and will improve if action is taken.