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Signs Your Child is the Target of Cyberbullying (And How to Help)

October 9, 2012 at 7:00 AM

cyberbullying elin weoeschWhen you became a parent, nobody handed you an owners' manual.  From health to education to socialization, raising chidren today is hard enough without the spectre of cyberbullying looming over your heads.  The old days of classroom taunts and playground insults have exploded into the technical age, and today's children have a lot more to worry about.

Texting, camera phones, social networks--these provide 24/7 access for bullies that we never dreamed of growing up.  And parents are worried.

A recent article in The Naperville Sun gave advise on ways parents can help kids who have fallen prey to cyberbullies.

  1. Watch for tell-tale behavior changes.  A child who is being bullied has a tendency to withdraw from social activities in order to avoid contact with their bullies.  If your child acts jumpy when a text or email arrives, avoids using their phone or computer, or "plays sick" to avoid going to school, this couls be a warning sign.

  2. Open the lines of communications. Bullying has an isolating affect on a child and can lead them to believe they are alone in their struggle.  As a parent, you can let them know they are not alone and that it's safe to talk to you about any situation or communication that makes them feel bullied.

  3. Take official action.  Both you and the child may feel overwhelmed by the scope of cyberbullying occurring.  Be sure to include school officials and, if necessary, Internet Service Providers, in developing a plan to protect your child from future incidents of cyberbullying.

  4. Set strict guidelines for cyber-usage.  Be sure you and your child are on the same page when it comes to acceptable practices online.  Keep tabs on your child's social networking activities and help them understand what is safe and what is not.

  5. Reach out for community.  Bullying, unfortunately, is quite common.  Seeking out resources in your area for bullied kids and their familiers, as well as online resources, can equip your family with the tools it needs deal with the affects of cyberbullying.

     

  6. Strengthen your child's resilience and self-esteem.  Bullies are much less effective against a child who knows themselves, and likes who they are.  Work with your child to find things about themselves they can be proud of, and to set acheivable goals that can bolster their self-esteem.  And when things don't go well, help them realize that failure is just as much a part of success as victory.  Help them learn the lessons they need to go back and try again.

    Parenting will never be easy.  But it doesn't have to be impossible.  Whether it's skinned knees or bruised egos, you have the tools to help them through anything!

                                     
Tim Woda

Written by Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start uKnow.com. You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.

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