With rapid developments in technology and social media sites, it’s no surprise that bullies have quickly made their debut online. As a parent or guardian, what’s your first instinct? It’s probably to protect your child from being a victim. Even without being directly affected, however, children often become bystanders to cyberbullying within their online world.
According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, an average of 25 percent of middle and high school students admitted to being cyberbullied at some point during their lives, and 42 percent of students witnessed other people being bullied online. Your child can learn how to appropriately respond to a difficult but serious situation with Connections Academy’s six ways to help your child respond to cyberbullying.
What Is the Bystander Effect?
The Pew Research Center Internet Project(opens in a new tab) of 2011 reported that a whopping 90 percent of teen social media users have ignored the cyberbullying they have witnessed on a social networking site.
Even though cyberbullying is not considered a traditional form of bullying, it can be just as severe and traumatizing for the victim. A bystander who remains silent not only allows the bully to continue to harass other students without consequence but also contributes to the percentage of cyberbullied victims. Children might even think it’s acceptable to participate in social media bullying if the cyberbully they witness is not reprimanded.
How Can Your Child Respond to Cyberbullying?
Your child has the power to make a difference! The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that 57 percent of the time when bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds.
The idea of standing up to bullies can be incredibly nerve-racking for children, especially if they have limited experience with conflict resolutions. Following are some effective ways to help you and your child respond to cyberbullying:
- Talk about it.
For starters, educate your child on the definition of bullying and cyberbullying, if you haven’t done so already. Consider sitting him or her down to discuss and review bullying prevention resources. The more children know, the better they will be able to recognize bullying and respond.
- Play it out.
Sometimes when you take an interactive approach, it makes it easier for children to grasp a particular subject matter. Try giving your child examples by coming up with different cyberbullying scenarios.(opens in a new tab)Take the role of cyberbully and let your child be the bystander. Ask questions such as, “What would you do in this situation?”
- Make sure children know to tell an adult.
Encourage your child to come to you, a Learning Coach, or another responsible adult as soon as he or she encounters a cyberbully. Children are more likely to open up to someone who is familiar and trustworthy. Commend your child for leaving it in the hands of an adult.
- Document all the facts.
Remind your child to write down all the details(opens in a new tab) regarding the cyberbully and victim. It might help to ease his or her mind if you explain that a bystander does not need to rely solely on memory. It’s important that the answers to your questions be as accurate as possible in order to properly deal with the situation.
- Report the cyberbully.
Many social media sites and online gaming networks give their users the option to report any negative or offensive posts, which may result in blocking users who violate the terms of service. Make sure you or your child reports the incident so that the site’s staff members can take the necessary disciplinary action and prevent the adverse behavior from happening again. If cyberbullying involves criminal activities, report the incident to local law enforcement. State laws(opens in a new tab) require schools to have proper bullying prevention and response plans in place, so it is important that your child’s school be contacted if bullying in schools creates a disruptive environment.
- Raise awareness and make a difference.
Encourage your child to be assertive and become a hero! It’s difficult to prevent online bullying without raising awareness. Starting a bully awareness group or even a support group for victims is a great way to promote empathy and kindness. Even if it’s just standing up for one victim, that’s one less victim of cyberbullying.
With your encouragement and these 6 ways to respond to cyberbullying, kids can safely stand up for cyberbullied victims.
To learn how you can be more involved in your child’s education through online public school, visit the Connections Academy website(opens in a new tab). Or to learn about online private school, visit Pearson Online Academy ’s website.(opens in a new tab)