Are you a parent? Excellent, you’ve come to the right place. How about an elder brother or sister? An aunt or uncle? A grandparent? A guardian, or sempai? Perfect, glad to have you here. Get comfy, because we’ve got something very important to talk about.
Let’s talk about cyberbullying. Yes, we do understand we’ve covered the topic countless times in the past. It doesn’t make it any less relevant today as it did then. In a way, it’s even more important that we talk about it, considering it’s now recognized as a very real threat.
It could happen to anyone, really. It could happen to your friend, to your mom, to your partner, to you. Yes, as long as you’re on the Internet, it can also happen to you.
But hey, we’re grownups. We’re supposed to know what to do when a troll happens to us. (and in case you don’t, we got you your back; here’s what you can do.)
But you know who’s really the most vulnerable to these sorts of attacks? Your kids.
Your nephews, your nieces, you students, your charges, your younger friends — they may be digital natives the moment they were born, but it doesn’t mean they’re immune to the slings and arrows of online vitriol and hateful speech.
Of course, you could always shrug and say kinds need to develop “thicker skin”, need to remember the old “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” addage, but a saying will never be able to prevent them from the damage following them around every time they use the Internet. Alienation and getting ostracized is just the tip of the iceberg. The typed threats on a glowing screen could very easily turn into something real.
Street beatings? Assault? Rape? Murder? Tell me again how these things are not real.
Get the low-down on real-world cyberbullying in this infographic below:
Via: Zayed Law of Chicago
Here are some steps you can bear in mind with your role in cyber bullying:
1) Be the support your kids need. As parents and guardians, we’d want us to be the very first people our kids come to when they get cyberbullied. Sometimes, though, we end up being the last to know while our kids suffer in silence. Why? Because parents tend to over react, or worse, under-react. think about when you were in their shoes and you got bullied the first time: weren’t you afraid that things might get worse if you “told on” your bullies? your kids feel the same fears, albeit these fears now wear different masks: calling the bully’s parents, suing the school, revoking internet privileges — to your child, these things may end up doing more harm than good in the long run, and aren’t exactly what they need from you right now. So please: listen to your child. No matter what happened, be with them, and express your love and support to them. don’t brush this matter off; nothing tells a child that their fears, and their safety (and in effect, they) don’t matter more than when an adult disregards them.
2) Loop other concerned adults into the issue to help your child. It takes a village to raise a child, so the saying goes, and getting other grownups to be there for your child is one way to help them feel more secure and loved. Get in touch with your school’s guidance counselor to keep an eye out for in-school bullying and to check on how your child is handling things. get the support and cooperation of your pediatrician, family counselor, clergy or religious leader in case things escalate.
3) Be aware that a child is just as likely to be a cyberbully as they are to be a victim of cyberbullying — and can easily go back and forth on these roles in one incident without even realizing it. (check out “Inadvertent cyberbully” in this link.)
4) In the event that personal information about your child has been posted online, or threats have been made, run — don’t walk — to your local law enforcement agency. Have solid evidence to back you up; print-outs may be be very convincing to the authorities, so keep in mind you will need live data and electronic evidence for this. Reach out to your Internet service providers to help you preserve any live evidence, as this are under threat of deletion at any moment. Live data can help experts track the flow of information down to the cyberbullies offline and evaluate the case. Tell your local police that trained anti-cyber-harrassment experts (like those at WiredSafety.org) will work this case out with them.