Cyber bullies are victims – no less than those they victimize and probably even more. Unlike traditional schoolyard bullying, cyber-bullying “works” for young people who might not otherwise be bullies. It’s possible that they are being bullied by others or they may be introverts, underdogs or underachievers, who wouldn’t dare to bully someone face to face and they use the Internet as a way to “get even”.
The good news is… If you are reading this – you are probably already aware of the fact that your child is bullying others and are looking for ways to deal with it. That puts you one step ahead of many other parents who may typically just tell the child to “stop it”, who simply do nothing because they refuse to acknowledge that there is a problem, who don’t understand exactly what cyberbulllying is or who think what their child is doing “doesn’t hurt” anyone.
So, your child is a cyberbully? That doesn’t mean you are a bad parent!
Once you have discovered that your child is a cyber bully you may feel that you aren’t a good parent or wonder what you did wrong. It is important that you understand that this is not necessarily a reflection on your parenting skills. In addition, you should keep in mind that with this “new” type of bullying “traditional” punishments such as ‘grounding’ someone to the house just doesn’t work.
So, what can I do?
There are a number of things you can do if you discover that your child is bullying others online.
Explain to your child that this kind of behavior is unacceptable. Stop any show of aggression you see and talk about other ways your child can deal with the situation. Ask them: how would you feel if someone did these things to you or to someone you love?
Try to find out why: Ask your child – Did something happen to make you act this way? Think- is there something going on at home that is encouraging this type of behavior? It may be that your child is being bullied themselves and has turned to bullying as a way of countering this. They may have got in with the wrong crowd and are being coerced into bullying by others to stay in with the crowd.
If you do discover the cause try to help them deal with that problem
Explain the severity of their actions. Ask them if they would like their actions reported to law enforcement or school authorities
Ask them to stop the bullying immediately. Make it clear to your child that you take bullying seriously and that you will not tolerate this behavior. Encourage them to apologize to the victim
Monitor their Internet and phone activity. Move the computer out of their bedroom; take away their cell phone if necessary
Increase your knowledge of technology. Parents may be unaware of the full range of technologies used by their children. Try to familiarize yourself with these technologies
Learn about relevant legal issues and how to contact mobile phone companies and Internet service providers. Is cyberbulllying punishable by law where you live?
Share your concerns with your child’s teacher, counselor, or principal. Work together to send clear messages to your child that his or her bullying must stop
If you or your child needs additional help, talk with a school counselor or mental health professional.