How to Keep Your Teenager Safe from Cyber-bullying

I could address many areas regarding teenage school safety and security. One topic that often flies under the radar is cyber-bullying. Look for a moment at these 2014 statistics on cyber-bullying.

  • Over half (52 percent) of young people report being cyber bullied
  • More than half of young people surveyed say that they never told their parents when cyber bullying happens to them
  • Over half (55 percent) of all teens who use social media have witnessed outright bullying via that medium
  • An astounding 95 percent of teens who witnessed bullying on scial media report that others, like them, have ignored the behavior

 

In short, cyber-bullying is happening via social media, cell phones and computers. Parents have little knowledge that it is happening. Cyber-bullying can lead to depression, a drop in grades, self-harming behaviors, and in some cases suicide.

What are the Specific Forms of Cyberbully?

1. Gossip: Posting or sending cruel gossip to damage a person’s reputation and relationships with friends, family, and acquaintances.
2. Exclusion: Deliberately excluding someone from an online group.
3. Impersonation: Breaking into someone’s e-mail or other online account and sending messages that will cause embarrassment or damage to the person’s reputation and affect his or her relationship with others.
4. Harassment: Repeatedly posting or sending offensive, rude, and insulting messages.
5. Cyber-stalking: Posting or sending unwanted or intimidating messages, which may include threats.
6. Flaming: Online fights where scornful and offensive messages are posted on websites, forums, or blogs.
7. Outing and Trickery: Tricking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information, which is then shared online.
8. Cyber-threats: Remarks on the Internet threatening or implying violent behavior, displaying suicidal tendencies

What Can You Do About Cyber-bullying?

Standing up to peers is a hard thing to do for people of all ages. But you can make it easier for kids by giving them the confidence and the support they need to do so. Here are some ways parents can help children develop these traits:

• Teach children to be assertive. Emphasize peaceful ways to solve problems and encourage kids to stand up for themselves verbally, not violently.
• Show kids safe ways to help others. Make it clear that you expect kids to take action if they see someone being hurt, or if they are hurt themselves.
• Hold kids accountable. If children stand by and watch someone being bullied, make it clear that their behavior hurts the victim too.
• Get to know their friends. Encourage your children to invite their friends to your home or accompany you on family outings.
• Be a good example. If you see someone being bullied or hurt, help them.
• Build empathy in your kids. If you see examples of people being bullied or hurt in movies, television, or books, talk with your children about how these people must feel. Ask your children how they would feel in that situation and what they would do to make it better. Point out ways characters helped out, or didn’t, and have your children think up different ways to help.
• Help them develop social skills. From a young age, encourage your children to play with others and to be friends with many different people. Have them spend time with people of different ages, backgrounds, races, ethnicities, religions, and mental and physical abilities.
• Young people are using the Internet more than ever and most have Internet access from home. For many children, the Internet isn’t simply a convenient way to research or a fun after school activity – it’s a big part of their social life. Emailing and chatting with friends are children’s most common online activities, after studying and playing games. But like many other social situations, some kids bully other kids online.

As our teenagers are more and more involved in the digital online world, cyber-bullying will increase as a problem. Have a talk with your teenager about cyber-bullying. Listen and learn from them about this world. Then offer your wisdom on the situation.

If you would like a free parent’s guide to cyberbullying, click here Parent Guide.

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