As a parent, it’s devastating to know your child is in pain or turmoil. If your child has shared that they were cyberbullied—or you’ve discovered it on your own—as scary as this can be, it’s important not to be rash and react irrationally. How you respond is crucial; the wrong reaction can have damaging and lasting effects on your child’s emotional and mental health.
Here’s what you should do if your child has become a victim of cyberbullying.
Find out more about the cyberbullying incident.
Did someone post a photo of your child online without their permission, and others commented negatively on it? Is someone posting cruel comments about your kid on social media or a public forum? Is your child being bombarded with hateful messages online?
Your child may provide insight on when the cyberbullying incidents began and why. When asking your kid about it, assure them they’re opening up in a safe space and don’t lay blame or victim-shame. It’s more important to understand the current situation than accuse them of practicing unsafe online habits or somehow provoking their attacker.
Learn about anti-cyberbullying laws.
While there are various ways cyberbullies attack their victims, remember that each state has specific levels of protection and legislation making cyberbullying and online harassment illegal. You can research your area here.
Social media and online platforms also have cyberbullying regulations. You can report the incident, which should begin the process of removing the malicious content.
Individuals can be criminally prosecuted for their actions, so make sure that you report any criminal activity as soon as possible.
Talk to your child.
Protecting your kid’s emotional and mental health is crucial at this time. How much of their trauma they’re willing to share openly may depend on their age or personality.
As the parent, don’t brush off the incident, hoping it will go away and be forgotten. Talk to them about how they feel. They may not want to make a big deal of it out of fear that the situation will worsen at school and with their peers. However, they should know cyberbullying should never be tolerated or excused.
Seek help from the proper authorities.
Some cyberbullying may escalate, and attackers may make threats involving physical harm. In these cases, parents and caregivers can also work with law enforcement or school officials and teachers, depending on the severity of the cyberbullying incident.
Join support groups.
It may help to join a support group for parents whose children have been victims of cyberbullying. Talk with other parents whose kids have had similar experiences and learn how they dealt with it can be helpful because each case is different.
You must do what feels suitable for your family because everybody has a different way of coping when things like this happen, so it’s just really about figuring out what works best for your situation.
Get the help your child needs.
There are many resources available to victims who have been cyberbullied, including therapy sessions with counselors experienced in dealing with these types of cases and learning from other parents whose kids have had similar experiences, as well as working with local authorities.
About the Writer
Center for Cyber Safety and Education
The Center for Cyber Safety and Education is a nonprofit dedicated to educating children, adults and seniors on how to be safe online. Their mission is to empower students, teachers and whole communities to secure themselves online through our cyber safety education and awareness programs, information security scholarships, and industry and consumer research