To be clear, cyberbullying refers to when a minor is stalked, teased, threatened, attacked, or harassed in any way by another minor online. When the children become adults, it ceases to be cyberbullying, and is instead cyber-harassment. Cyberbullying can possibly lead to incidents of self-harm, or even the suicide of the targeted child. How do people cyberbully others? Through any media that allows access to the internet, including texts, social media posts, emails, and so on. Here, parents and guardians who are concerned that their child is being cyberbullied can find potential solutions, ways to prevent it, and reasons why do people cyberbully.
- Amusement; these children have nothing else to do with their time, so they take to the internet to torment others for fun. It makes matters worse that the child has the gift of anonymity when using the internet, so they can feel free to attack others without anyone knowing who they are.
- To get back at another child. A child who has been bullied might decide to avenge himself/herself by taking to the internet and attacking the person that tormented him/her. The formerly bullied child will feel dominant, and ‘even.’
- Which takes us to another reason why people cyberbully: for the sheer power. The child will feel invincible, because with anonymity, who can really stop them?
There is a variety of reasons that youth resort to cyberbullying, and these are just a few, however, it is important to understand why do people cyberbully to perhaps make it easier to identify the bully through their motivations. It is also important if you suspect that your child may be instigating bullying, and want to put a stop to it.
Regardless of the reason as to why do people cyberbully, one can be certain that it is always motivated by hatred, as well as cowardice. So, no matter what the cause, you are going to want to know solutions for cyberbullying if your child is being targeted.
- Report the harassment online. Such websites as Yahoo!, Facebook, and many others have a built-in system for “flagging” reporting inappropriate content, including harassment. You can also block certain people from contacting you. Take care not to respond to bullies, as it will give them incentive to continue the harassment. Also save any evidence of the harassment, such as emails, texts, as well as the dates and times to give to service providers, and explain the situation to them, if you can.
- Police. You can possibly involve law enforcement if any correspondence from the bullies includes threats of physical harm, sexually explicit material, proof of stalking, hate crimes, or videos/photos of someone who was unaware that they were being filmed/photographed, or hacked pictures/video. Depending on the laws in your state, other forms of cyberbullying may be considered criminal. Either way, do not hesitate to contact law enforcement if you fear something terrible may happen.
- School. Get your child(ren)’s school involved. Often, schools can help to an extent, and may be required by law to take action even for an off-campus incident, depending on the state. If you believe someone else from the school is attacking your child online, inform the school of the situation. It is always worth a try.
It can certainly be tough to eradicate cyberbullying, as the threat is so hard to find. However, taking the above actions will certainly help the situation, and stop your child from being affected, even if the bullies are not brought to justice.
There are a number of preventative measures you can take to help stop cyberbullying before it even starts.
- Know what your children are doing online. Talk to them about the sites that they regularly visit, and for social media, make sure that they are only “adding” or “messaging” people that they know. You could scan the sites that they use on your own as well, or even set up filtering programs, though these are often of limited use.
- Let your kids know that they can come to you if they feel that they are being bullied. Encourage them to be open with you, and make sure that they know that they will not be in trouble, or punished in any way if they are being harassed online. Tell them to take measures to block the people, and not to respond to any threats or attacks, as that just lets the bully know that he/she is having an effect.
- Set forth rules for internet usage. Parents should emphasize the importance of thinking before posting on social media, for example, as well as on forums where the child would have relative or complete anonymity. Others may see and respond vehemently to these posts, as they have anonymity as well, making the child feel personally attacked. Similarly, bullies could take private information that a child has posted and use it against him/her. It may help to join a social media site and request to be friended by your child, or, if that is not feasible, ask a trusted family friend to do so to monitor for any questionable activity.
Since cyberbullying has become so prevalent with the increasingly high use of the internet, different modes of handling cyberbullying are continually being mobilized as well. If you feel as though your child may be being cyberbullied, do not hesitate to sit down with them, look at the posts, and take the necessary steps. Report the person, get the school involved, and if the harassment continues, go to law enforcement. Don’t be discouraged from acting because you believe that the bullying is no big deal, or because you have doubts that anyone will help. Do whatever is necessary, if one method does not work, keep pushing.