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4 Ways to Handle Cyberbullying

October 27, 2013 at 3:41 PM

cyberbullying

DoSomething.org reports students who are cyberbullied have up to nine times higher chances of suicide. Cyberbullying comes in many forms: stalking, harassment and identity theft are three common forms. Self-esteem problems, unwillingness to go to school, and engaging in bullying behavior of their own are signs that your child might be a victim of cyberbullying. If your child has plunging grades and doesn't want to hang out with their friends, it's time to take a look into what's going on in his or her life.

Document Everything

Work with your child to collect as much evidence of the bullying as possible to you. Chat logs, text messages and emails are all useful sources of information to display the extent of the cyberbullying. Take screen shots of inappropriate or threatening messages and email them to yourself to keep a backup of the messages (Take-a-screenshot.org explains how to take screen shots on various devices). Solid evidence will help you make your case if you need to take legal action. Social network sites such as Facebook have chat logs you can easily view for cyberbullying.

Go to the Police

The first thing experts will tell you is not to respond when someone sends a threatening message. When the cyberbullying escalates to direct threats against your child or sexual harassment, go right to the police. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Bring all the evidence you have available so they can appropriately address the situation. The bully may end up with a restraining order against them, or even criminal charges, depending on the severity of the harassment.

Guard Against Identity Threats

Some cyberbullies are after more than just your mental well-being — they're after your child's identity. These are career criminals who know how to trick people out of sensitive information. Not all credit companies check ages of applicants, so your child's Social Security number, birthdate and other information could be stolen. Identity theft protection service LifeLock.com reports identity thieves can disguise themselves as friends, acquaintances and relatives to access private information.

Cut Out Communication

The cyberbully lives for getting a reaction out of their victim, so prevent that as much as possible. If your children are being harassed on social network sites, use the tools of those sites to block communication entirely. There are blocking tools that stop the bully from sending messages, although you may need to watch your children's accounts to see if the bully makes fake accounts to attempt to harass your children further. If you are unable to cut out communication completely, do your best to have your child not engage with the bully.

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

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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