What should I do if my child has been bullied?

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Do you suspect that your child is a target of cyberbulllying? If you’re not sure, click here to find out what the warning signs could be.

Even if you are pretty sure that your child is being cyber bullied, you probably would like some advice as to how to deal with it. Some parents fear the technological gap (“I don’t even understand what it is that he is doing on the computer all day”). Others are afraid of invading their child’s privacy and alienating them. But remember that your child needs your help – they may feel alone, sad, depressed or angry. And in some extreme cases suicide has been attributed to cyberbulllying.

So here are a few things that you can do:

  • Don’t be afraid of your computer or the Internet. The more you know, the better you will be able to understand what your child is going through
  • Talk with your child. If your child seems upset or distracted after using the phone or the Internet, talk to them about offending calls or messages. Emphasize that they do not have to accept any online activity that is meant to intimidate, threaten, tease or harm them or anyone else. Also, try to understand what exactly happened. Be supportive! Work together with your child, ask them what they would like to happen and try to establish an appropriate course of action together with them
  • Join forces with other parents
  • Document and keep any bullying evidence: print out e-mail messages, save text messages
  • Contact the authorities!
    • If your child knows the bully and it is someone from their school, contact the teacher or any other school authority
    • If it is someone they know from outside the school contact your local police. Even if they don’t know how to identify the individual who has made the threat, law enforcement often has access to the information and may be able to track down and arrest them before they do more harm.
    • Legislation: If you live in the US, your state may have already passed legislation on the issue of cyberbullying. Check out the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website to find out what the law is in your state.
    • Report any other content or activity that you suspect as illegal or criminal to local law enforcement and to the these cybercrime hotlines
    • Contact your Internet service provider: they can often block a cyber bully
  • Encourage your child to keep a diary and write about the bullying incidents, to draw or to do any other creative activity that will help her deal with her emotions
  • Discuss the option of changing your child’s phone number with them
  • Avoid immediately banning access to instant messaging, e-mail, social networking Web sites, their mobile phone, or the Internet in general. This may very likely not eliminate the problem and on the contrary, may serve to alienate and annoy a child who is accustomed to accessible online communication
  • Instruct your child how to act.
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