Tara Fishler, cyberbullying

For the month of October, during National Bullying Prevention Month, we are posting interviews we conducted with some of the most influential people in the cyberbullying prevention space. The next in the series involves Tara Fishler, Founder & CEO of “Customized Training Solutions."

uKK: What is the nature of your expertise on cyberbullying?

TF: I have been educating students, parents and teachers on the issues of bullying, cyberbullying and related topics for many years.

uKK: What do you believe is the number one thing that can be done to draw attention to and prevent this trend?

TF: Creating a culture that changes bystanders to allies, so the power of bullies are deflated and not accepted.

uKK: What online trends do you believe contribute to this trend, and how should those issues be addressed?

TF: Social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Contact & many others provide anonymity & quick, widespread access to alter and spread information.  It is nearly impossible to remove things once they have been posted.  Permanently removing unwanted posts should be much simpler.

uKK: What steps can parents take to educate themselves and become better informed about potential incidents?

TF: Have open, ongoing dialogue with their kids.  Know their friends and be “friends” with them on these sites.  Then don’t be an actual friend.  Be a parent, show support and try to show them the consequences of inappropriate, hurtful posts.

uKK: What is the best thing for a parent to do when finding out their child has been cyberbullied?

DOCUMENT EVERYTHING!  Take screen shots, copy strings of messages, keep a log of dates, times and actions. Do not respond to the messages and instruct your child not to respond either. Involve your child in the decision of what to do.  They often have realistic concerns that telling will exacerbate the problem.  Probe school personnel gently to see what their policies and actual procedures are.  Many schools try to address these issues, but don’t know effective ways to do so.

If threats of harm have been made, you can take the evidence you collected to the police.  Most of all, commend your child for telling you (if that’s how you found out) and be supportive.  Try not to over-react by blaming or punishing the child.  Do take it seriously and jointly decide on a plan of action.

uKK: What are some of the best resources parents can turn to in these situations?

TF: http://www.stopcyberbullying.org,  http://www.safekids.com, www.stopbullying.gov, www.commonsensemedia.org/cyberbullying‎, www.edutopia.org

uKK: What is the best thing for a parent to do when finding out their child has cyberbullied someone else?

TF: Talk to your child and a school or private counselor.  Listen to your child and try to uncover what led to the cyber-bullying behavior. Help them understand the impact and consequences of their actions.  Remember that kids, particularly girls, are adept at denying their actions, acting “truly shocked” and appearing remorseful and apologetic. As hard as it is to hear that your child may have done something hurtful to someone else, be open-minded and try to really listen to the different points of view, without lecturing.New Call-to-Action

uKK: What is the best thing for a teenager to do if he has been cyberbullied?

TF: If they know who is doing it, (sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t), block the bully’s email address & phone # & social media contact information.  Report inappropriate posts to the Internet Service Provider.  Remember that some bullies impersonate other people, so don’t assume that the person who appears to have sent the messages actually did so.  Do not retaliate by returning a cyber-bullying exchange.  Responding lets the bully know they affected you.  Not posting a response gives you some control so you are not sucked into their harmful activities.

uKK: Any additional information you would like to provide?

TF: Make sure children understand that they should never post anything they wouldn’t say or show to someone face to face, which includes indecent pictures

--Many parents are still in the dark about cyberbullying. Become informed with our eBook: “10 Essential Things Every Parent Should Know about Cyberbullying.” Download your free copy today!--

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.