Category: Bullying

How to Tell If Your Child is Involved in Cyberbullying

cyberbullying of a child

If you keep up with the news, then you’re all too familiar with stories about cyberbullying. As a parent, you might be concerned that your child could become a victim of online bullying. Equally worrying is the possibility that your child is a cyberbully.

Whether your child is being bullied online or your child is doing the bullying, there’s a good chance that they won’t tell you what’s going on. However your child is involved in cyberbullying, it can have serious consequences, which is why you must learn how to recognize the signs. The critical first step to helping your child is being able to tell if they’re involved in online bullying.

You want to protect your child from the dangers of the world and that includes cyberbullying. Even if you don’t consider yourself internet savvy, you can still familiarize yourself with the indicators for if your child is bullying other children online or if they’re the target of cyberbullying. Since your child may not even know what counts as cyberbullying, stay vigilant for any signs that they may be involved in online bullying.

The Dangers of Cyberbullying

To start, the definition of cyberbullying is using technology such as social media to deliberately and repeatedly harass, threaten, and humiliate another person. Online bullying can range from someone spreading rumors online and creating fake social media profiles to sending mean texts or emails. Your son or daughter might not come home from school with a black eye, but online bullying can be just as damaging as physical bullying.

Because cyberbullying is a relatively new phenomenon since it’s directly related to the rise of the internet, there isn’t much research available regarding its long-term effects. But, psychologists agree that being the victim of traditional bullying puts a child at risk for anxiety and depression as well as decreases their ability to concentrate in school. Individuals who experience emotional trauma as children or adolescents can carry that stress and anguish well into adulthood.

The victims of bullying aren’t the only ones who suffer. Bullies themselves endure long-term consequences. Unlike their well-adjusted peers, bullies often don’t learn essential life skills such as the ability to compromise and negotiate. Children who never grasp how to work with others could have trouble forming healthy relationships as an adult and may even be more likely to engage in criminal activity. For both bullies and victims, cyberbullying can lead to mental health issues in children.

How to Tell If Your Child Is the Victim of Cyberbullying

Often, children are reluctant to tell their parents that someone is bullying them. In the case of cyberbullying, kids sometimes don’t even realize that they’re being bullied. Since there is a good chance your child won’t come forward themselves, you should know how to tell if your child is the victim of online bullying.

Children with learning or thinking differences could be at a higher risk of being cyberbullied. Signs to watch out for include sudden changes in their computer usage, not wanting to use the computer in common spaces, and changing the screen when you’re around. If your child seems nervous or on edge when they receive a message, text, or email, someone might be bullying them online.

Your child expressing feelings of loneliness or saying something along the lines of “I have no friends” could also indicate they are the victim of cyberbullying. Finally, if your child becomes withdrawn and doesn’t want to go to school, there’s likely an issue that requires your attention. Encourage them to turn off social media, and on your own, research the school’s cyberbullying policies. Depending on the severity of the situation, you may need to involve other parents, the school, and possibly law enforcement.

Signs Your Child Is a Cyberbully

Being the victim isn’t the only way your child can be involved in cyberbullying. They could be the one doing the online bullying. Your first instinct might be to shut your eyes and cover your ears and deny that your child could ever do such a thing, but ignoring the problem only serves to deny your child the chance to change their behavior and learn from what they’ve done. You can’t teach your child not to be a cyberbully if you ignore the signs that they are one.

Furthermore, failing to recognize your child’s actions could mean that you’re overlooking underlying issues. Keep in mind that cyberbullying is even more common among older teenagers (14-18). They might be cyberbullying in retaliation or feeling pressure to follow the lead of someone in their peer group and simply acting as a cyberbully bystander. It’s possible that online bullying is their way of handling a bigger stressor such as divorce or changing schools. You’ll never get to the bottom of the issue if you don’t first see the signs and confront the fact that your child is a cyberbully.

One major indicator that your child is involved in online bullying is if they’re unwilling to discuss or share information about their online accounts or activities. As with the victims of cyberbullying, increased secretiveness is a warning sign. If you’re suspicious, then enforce keeping devices in commonly used areas.

Whether your child is showing signs that they are a cyberbully or the target of cyberbullying, your first step in addressing the issue should be talking to your child. One way to start the conversation is to share your own experience with bullying. But, you won’t be able to have that all-important talk unless you’re able to tell if your child is involved in cyberbullying. Take time to familiarize yourself with the indicators, and then, make a point of staying vigilant. Cyberbullying can have serious consequences for both the victim and bully, so keep a watchful eye for any signs that your child is involved in online bullying.

How to Foster Empathy for Bullying Prevention

Empathy for Bullying Prevention

Regrettably, bullying is very common among children. However, that doesn’t make it normal, and parents shouldn’t rely on their children to “grow out of it” as they mature. Why? Because growing out of it is a quick fix, while fostering empathy in your child is a long-term solution.

Emotions, kindness, comforting words, hugs, and feeling others’ pain are all traits associated with empathy. When your child is empathetic, bullying is entirely out of the equation. But the question is how to foster empathy for bullying prevention. Below are a few ideas.

How to Instill Empathy in Children

When your child is authentically empathetic, they’re guided by their empathy in all their actions. They’re able to put themselves in others’ shoes, relate to their feelings, and help others feel better. Here are some ways to teach your little one to be empathetic.

Fulfill Their Needs

Even among grownups, we usually say that when someone bullies us, they feel bad about themselves or are jealous. By that very same token, if your child doesn’t receive the love they need from you, they won’t be able to treat others with love either.

Loving your children extends to include making them feel enough, and that’s the keyword. Avoid comparisons with classmates who receive better grades, sports mates who continuously win the gold medal, and similar situations. This very often triggers bullying behavior.

Encourage Your Child to Speak Up

Kids often have trouble conveying their feelings, especially when they don’t understand exactly how they feel. Always encourage your little one to share their feelings in the best way they can –– be it through art, speaking, a song, or other. Then, you can help them name their feelings.

When they’re connected with their emotions, they’re able to pick up on situations where others feel the same way they did, and they’ll understand how that felt like. If your child doesn’t let out their feelings, it may result in violence, bullying, and tantrums.

Lead by Example

Children are the best copycats. Showing them what empathy looks like is one of the best ways to instill empathy in their behavior. For example, visit your neighbor who lives alone and take them with you. Then, when you’re back, tell them that the neighbor had been feeling lonely and you wanted to give her some company and cook her a good meal.

When you take action and explain it, your child builds up a life guide of situations and behaviors that they use when they need to. You don’t even have to make huge actions; they can be as small as explaining why an actor was crying in a particular movie scene. Also, make sure to hear what your child thinks of the reactions they’re perceiving.

By doing so, not only does your child eliminate bullying from their dictionary, but they’re also better equipped to identify it and stand up to such behavior if it ever happens to them.

Explain to Children How Their Words and Behaviors Impact Others

Sometimes, children simply don’t understand the repercussions of their behaviors. They don’t mean any harm, but their mind doesn’t grasp the impact of their actions. Therefore, always make a habit of talking to your child about what happens to the other person due to their behavior.

Make sure to tackle issues such as spreading rumors, gossiping, being violent, calling others names, leaving some people out, and more. That way, they’ll learn to think before taking action, and they’ll consider how the other person will feel.

It’s also best if your child’s school works on preventing bullying by using a program that promotes an overall positive school climate using age-appropriate lessons. Make sure to check the school’s efforts in that area.

Final Words

Being empathetic is a cornerstone of leading a healthy life. For the longest time, people thought that empathy is equivalent to being nice, but actually, empathy is the bigger umbrella encompassing high levels of emotional intelligence that children can employ to make compassionate decisions and relate to others.

We hope that you now have an idea of how to foster empathy for bullying prevention, and at the end of the day, we all share the same vision of putting a stop to bullying!

Which States Are Doing to Fight Cyberbullying?

Keeping kids safe online while learning

In many ways, the internet is a great learning tool and can be wonderful for connecting children with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, there is also plenty of inappropriate content, and online social networks can give other kids a forum for teasing and bullying.

Currently, there are only a few federal protections to keep minors safe online—the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) being the most prominent.

The good news is, states have the power to rein in bullying and inappropriate interactions that happen in the digital sphere—and several are going above and beyond to keep kids safe online. Here’s a closer look at which states are doing the most to keep their young residents protected while learning on the internet.

States Taking Action

Many states have implemented some combination of laws specifically addressing cyberbullying (at school and otherwise), online harassment, and texting inappropriate content (known as “sexting”). But nine states have doubled down on establishing protections for kids online:

  1. Arkansas
  2. Connecticut
  3. Florida
  4. Georgia
  5. Kansas
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. South Dakota
  8. Texas
  9. Utah

These states have taken clear legislative action against both cyberbullying—bullying, belittling, or harassment that occurs via digital means like social media or texting—and inappropriate texting with minors.

In Arkansas, schools are required to institute and enforce anti-bullying policies. Schools must also offer group conflict resolution services for students and training for teachers to learn how to recognize bullying.

Connecticut is a leader when it comes to cyber-bullying policies and resources for students and teachers. In addition to the laws put in place by Arkansas, Connecticut school districts also have strategies for including parents of both the student who was bullied and the student(s) doing the bullying to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Texas also has a strict policy that covers all these bases, though protections for specific classes aren’t clearly delineated.

The state of Florida includes a process for involving families in cyberbullying situations. It also requires districts to keep a list of programs that can offer training for school staff, parents, and students on how to identify and react to online harassment. Like Texas, specific groups aren’t called out in the laws, but state-funded schools are still held to federal anti-discrimination rules.

While the requirements in Georgia do not include training for school personnel, the state has implemented character education programs for all grade levels and includes off-campus cyberbullying directed toward students or school personnel in their laws and regulations.

Laws in Kansas don’t include off-campus incidents, but they do require training for educators and staff on navigating bullying situations. And Pennsylvania and Utah include everything except offering mental health support for students who have been bullied, even going so far as to require regular policy reviews and to involve families in policy creation, respectively.

South Dakota’s laws focus on responding to bullying as it happens, and while there aren’t plans in place for prevention or family involvement, the state does offer immunity for reporting bullying.

Additionally, all nine of these states have laws that directly address minors sending and receiving inappropriate content via text.

What Can Parents Do?

Regardless of what state you live in, there are some basic precautions you can take to keep kids safe online.

  1. Educate yourself on what dangers are out there and how to identify them.
  2. Figure out where your state stands on online privacy and safety for minors.
  3. Monitor your children when they’re using the internet, keep computers in common rooms, and set up restrictions to keep your kids off message boards, chat rooms, etc. until they’re old enough to engage responsibly.

Last but not least, have a conversation with your children about the importance of being careful with personal information and the potential risks of being online.

How You Can Help Stop Cyberbullying

Protect Children from Bullying

FamiSafe and Safe Search Kids have joined together to stop cyberbullying, as well as prevent it and help those who are victims. It’s a sad fact. Cyberbullying can can spread to anywhere the internet can reach, which is pretty much everywhere. So, we all need to work together.

You can do your part with The No Cyberbullying Challenge, from June 1 – 30, 2021.  Simply make an anti-cyberbullying post with the hashtags: #FamiSafe #NoCyberbullying. After participants complete the challenge, FamiSafe will donate money to the CyberSmile Foundation, an anti-bullying charity organization.

Every little bit helps in preventing and stopping the internet being used for harm instead of good. Learn how you can have fun while taking part in the challenge to raise money before others get hurt by cyberbullying.

No Cyberbullying - FamiSafe

Are you a Cyberbully Bystander?

People talk a lot about cyberbullies and their victims. One part of this social ill that people rarely talk about is how bystanders effect the situation. Some researchers call them “cyberbystanders.” Cyberbystanders are those who watch cyberbullying while it happens.

They are the other people in chat rooms or on social media apps who can read the posts that the bully posts to the victim.

Cyberbystanders can be middle-school kids, college students or even business associates. These people will watch the exchange and have a chance to speak up. But do they?

Many studies have been done to see exactly what happens to cyberbystanders. A university study found that only one out of ten cyberbystanders will take a stand during the exchange. The action these people take is usually limited to posting support for the victim or posting comments that the bully should back off.

Most of the time, though, cyberbystanders do nothing. The studies seem to show that cyberbystanders didn’t want to get the middle of a situation that was none of their business. They didn’t seem to make the connection that they were on a public site—making everything that happened there public.

Some of the cyberbystanders who did nothing during the bullying did take action afterwards. They sent comments to moderators or to the site’s security officers. Moderators and site security can remove offending posts and even ban bullies from the site.

Companies are taking cyberbullying more seriously these days and will often respond to comments within hours. This can help prevent further bullying, but still doesn’t make a difference to the victim of the bullying that’s already happened.

Cyberbystanders online act much like real-life bystanders. When an accident happens on the street, if there are lots of people watching, then people are less likely to help. In other words, the more witnesses there are, the fewer people will help.

That is the same online. If lots of people are watching the posts and tweets, the less likely someone will step in and defend the victim or criticize the bully. If only a couple people are reading the posts—or witness the accident—the more likely they are to step in and help. On the other hand, the more people that are following an ugly exchange online, the more brutal the bully will be. It seems that bullies like an audience.

Social scientists are still trying to understand the difference cyberbystanders make to online communication. What you can do is remember that you are probably a cyberbystander. Talk with your teachers, friends or family about what you should do when you see bullying happen online. Don’t be one of the nine out of ten who does nothing.

Learn More About the #NoBullyingChallenge to Raise Money for CyberSmile