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 Jayne A. Hitchcock, President of Working to Halt Online Abuse – Kids/Teen Division.
uKK:What is the nature of your expertise on cyberbullying?
JH: I have been working with victims under the age of 18 and speaking at schools about the subject 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?
JH: Education! Not only for students, but also school employees and parents, as well as law enforcement.
uKK: What online trends do you believe contribute to this trend, and how should those issues be addressed?
I think pretty much anything online can be used to bully another person, so the “newest” place to be or app to use will be the latest used.
uKK:What steps can parents take to educate themselves and become better informed about potential incidents?
JH: Learn what their kids are doing online. Kids love to show off, so ask them what they do online and show the parents how they do it. I encourage parents to sit with their kids, listen to them and ask questions. If they don’t have a Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc account, ask their kids to help them create one and show them how it works.
uKK: What is the best thing for a parent to do when finding out their child has been cyberbullied?
JH: First, listen to your child. Don’t punish them – it’s not their fault. Find out what’s been going on. Has their child reported the cyberbullying to the web site, app maker, email provider, etc? If not, help them do that. If parents don’t know how to do that, we have resources on our web site to help them.
uKK: What are some of the best resources parents can turn to in these situations?
JH: Well, we have quite a few listed on our site, but netsmartz.org is a great site, as is schooltipline.com, as well as thinkuknow.org.au
uKK: What is the best thing for a parent to do when finding out their child has cyberbullied someone else?
JH: Sit down with your child and ask them why they did it. Alert school authorities (if they haven’t already been notified) and let them know what’s going on. Punish your child appropriately – take their cell phone and/or laptop away from them for a certain amount of time, only letting them use those when necessary. Parents can also get monitoring software for cell phones and computers (we have links to several programs on our site). Most important – apologize to the victim!!
uKK: What is the best thing for a child/teenager to do if he has been cyberbullied?
JH: We call it the three R’s: Recognize that it is cyberbullying – don’t just think it will “go away;” Refuse the cyberbullying by responding ONCE to the bully with a simple “Please stop contacting me,” then don’t respond after that, but do keep anything they send (emails, screenshots, etc); Report it to the appropriate people, whether it’s the web site, social network, app maker, cell phone provider, etc. Also find an adult to talk to about it. If they don’t have an adult they are comfortable talking to, then go to our web site, click on Need Help? and follow the steps there for free, anonymous help. We also have a celebrity spokesperson, Uncle Jim (who is the bassist for the Jimmy Buffet Band in his real life) who can be contacted. Then we have Phoebe the Cyber Crime Dog, who not only can be contacted on our site, but also has her own Facebook profile and Twitter account. Finally, they can report cyberbullying anonymously at schooltipline.com. If their school isn’t listed there, they should alert their teacher, counselor, school resource officer, or whoever about the site and see about getting their school added.
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!