Online bullying, called cyberbullying, occurs when teens use the email, instant messaging, or other technology to to send or post messages or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person. Cyberbullying is a problem that affects almost half of all American teens.
Cyberbullying is a serious problem that can cause kids to harm themselves or others. Here is a real-life story from Missouri that illustrates the consequences of cyberbullying.
Here are some tips to help you protect your children against cyberbullying.
- Make sure your children do not respond to rude and harassing emails, messages, and postings. Keep a record of them in case you need proof. Call law enforcement and inform your Internet Service Provider (ISP) if necessary.
- Use web sites that translate the lingo your children are sending or receiving so that you can understand the words that are being used in emails and chatrooms.
- If your children continue to receive harassing emails, have them delete their current accounts and open a new one. This new email address should only be given to a few people they can trust with it.
- If your children are receiving harassing messages through instant messaging, help them make use of the "block" or "ban" feature. This feature can be used to block certain individuals from being able to reach your child.
- If you have found that a cyberbully has set up a web site that is defaming or mocking your child, contact your ISP and, if necessary, also inform law enforcement to try to get that web site removed.
- Get your child's school involved. Learn what the school's policy on cyberbullying is, and urge the administrators to take a stance against all forms of bullying.