Bullying doesn’t always happen on the playground. Cyber bullying often occurs when a minor uses the Internet or an electronic device to send hurtful or embarrassing messages to another minor. This can mean spreading rumors, posing as another person online or tricking someone into revealing personal information. Cyber bullying is hurtful and stressful for children of all ages.
Here are some tips to help prevent your child from being cyber bullied:
Don’t respond – Clearing one’s name online can seem important, but confronting a cyber bully can worsen the circumstances. After all, most bullies’ motivation is simply to get a reaction out of their victims. Escape hostile situations by logging off of your satellite Internet or high-speed wireless connection and blocking tormenters at the first instance of harmful communication. Report bullies to website moderators and Internet service providers (ISPs) as soon as the harassment begins.
Collect evidence – Keep a record of the incidents by saving relevant e-mails, messages and postings as proof in case law enforcement becomes involved. Websites like the non-profit Internet Archives contain databases of saved Internet caches that may also serve as evidence. Also, type your name into a search engine to make sure there are no false profiles or personal information posted in your name by others.
Determine its source – Try to find out the bully’s identity by determining where your child first encountered him or her and what information he or she knows about your child. Make sure that your child’s social networking profile or blog doesn’t reveal contact information, as improper Internet security may be to blame. Check that you have a secure Internet connection so that your family’s personal information isn’t available to bullies.
Report incidents – Cyber bullying laws vary by state so contact local law enforcement as soon as you suspect the bullying has gotten out of control. School administrators should also get involved if the bully and victim are in school together as they may help alleviate tension during the daytime. Also, remember to alert moderators of websites about the harmful or embarrassing materials on which they appear so they can be on the lookout for potential defamation.
Refuse to participate – Sometimes cyber bullies will recruit others to join in on the bullying. Teach children that even if it seems harmless or just good fun at first, they should always avoid embarrassing others online and becoming involved in a cyber bullying scandal – or worse, legal case. Discouraging a potential bully can also prevent hurt feelings, trouble and physical bullying in the long run, so have a discussion with your children today.