Seven steps to take if your child is being cyberbullied

Talk to your child about cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is terrifying and Finding out your child has been cyberbullied is devastating. Here are the seven practical steps every parent should consider:

1. Talk to you child. Ask as many questions as you can, such as who did the bullying, how was he bullied, and how long has this been going on. Do not criticize your child if he has been keeping the bullying a secret for a long while. He was likely fearful and embarrassed to do so. Offer support, and make sure your child knows that the cyberbullying is not his fault, and that you are here for him.

2. Ask your child whether he retaliated by any bullying of his own. If he has done so, advise him to cease, and if he has not done so, advise him not to. Retaliation will often only encourage the bully, and might prevent your child from getting the help he deserves.

3. Collect as much evidence as possible about the cyberbullying. Take screenshots and pictures of the messages, save files, and document the identity of the perpetrators. After collecting the information, help your child remove himself from the bullies by deleting his social media profiles, changing his email and so on.

4. Report the cyberbullying to the administrators of the platform on which it occurred. This will frequently be a social media company, such as Facebook or Twitter. Most companies have policies regarding abuse, and most will remove the offending material automatically.

5. As the bullying frequently occurs among school peers, and may affect academic performance, report the incident to the school. Most teachers, vice-principals and principals, will do their utmost to protect your child and prevent the bullying from occurring.

6. Consider going to the police and reporting the bullying. Always do so if there are threats of physical harm to your child, if your child is being stalked, if naked or semi-naked pictures of your child are being used as part of the bullying, or if your child’s computer has been hacked. Most police departments will take those as signs of danger, and will react accordingly.

7. Cyberbullying may lead to depression, anxiety, self-injury or suicidal tendencies. If you notice any severe change in your child’s behavior, such as loss of sleep or appetite, or any indication your child may be in danger of hurting himself, contact a mental health provider as soon as possible. You may find the contact information of reliable providers in your area from your school’s counselor or pediatrician.

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