It is not at all unusual for children to deal with harassment from their peers. Unfortunately, hazing amongst children has long been a part of our youthful interactions. Regrettably being bullied for many children may be a rite of passage, often leaving emotional scars where the affect is carried well into adulthood. Countless victims of bullying suffered through their torment in the schoolyards they frequented. As painful as the emotional toll these children would have to endure, there was at least a perceived reprieve, as children would eventually leave these dwellings of misery, even if having to return the following day. They could on some level avoid these places, thus possibly avoid their bully. However, today’s form of harassment is Cyber-Bullying and it’s not so easy to disconnect. It’s ever present, prorogates with incredible speed and continuously grows with every mean spirited emoji, forcing victims to relive their horror.
If you are of a certain age more than likely your immediate thought is, just don’t turn on your device. However, what makes this phenomenon so different for many born within the years of GEN Y and all of GEN Z, is they have never known a world without the internet. It is not as simple as telling a child not to login or stay off the internet. It would be the equivalent, if their parents were told as a child not to use the television, a radio, or read a newspaper, oh and by the way, you can’t do your schoolwork either. This is what the internet means to today’s children. If we are not mindful in our attempts to protect them, we may inadvertently isolate them from the outside world.
If you believe your child has fallen victim to Cyber-Bullying, you may be able to identify the signs if you look for them. There could be changes in their behavior like, becoming withdrawn, losing interest in school and becoming secretive about their computer or mobile usage. As a parent the thought of your child dealing with something like this can be terrifying, so it is natural to want to do whatever you can to prevent it.
Fortunately, there are actions you can take to both safeguard your child from Cyber-Bullying and help your child to navigate through this very difficult time.
Children who are targets of online attacks may try to hide this fact from their parents. This often manifests in closing tabs and browsers when you come near them, refusing you access to their mobile devices, or refusing to go online altogether. Most kids are on social media to stay connected with friends so this drastic change in behavior is worth noting.
In order to ensure that your child is not dealing with any abusive behavior, it is a good idea to periodically check in on their social media profiles, and drop in on any chat rooms that they may be a part of. This will give you an insight into how other children are treating your child, and allow you to deal with any issues before they become too large. In undertaking action such as this it is also important to respect your child’s right to privacy, or they may begin deliberately hiding things from you.
If you see your child exhibiting anxiousness behavior upon receiving message alerts, this is a clear warning sign that they may be getting abusive messages from the sender. It is important to let your child know that you are aware of their reaction, you want to know specifically why and you can help them figure out how to respond to these messages.
Just like in most aspects of parenting, communication is extremely important and when it comes to Cyber-Bullying, it’s no different. You should ensure that your child knows that they can tell you if they receive any abusive messages online. In the event they do come to you with an issue, you should not chastise them on why they are using a particular ‘App’, or any other accusatory questions. Instead, try to remain supportive and let them know that you will work through everything together.
Cyber-Bullying can create a severe emotional strain on any child, which can lead to changes in their behavior. If the emotional change results in a total shut-down to people that are close to them, it is important to address this right away. Communicate with the child, encourage them to talk about what they are experiencing, and come up with ideas on how to respond to any online attacks.
Putting a stop to Cyber-Bullying can often take a group effort. If your child reports any harassment, you will likely need to work with their teacher, principal, and possibly other parents to curtail the hurtful activities. When the adults work together, the chances of things getting worse are greatly diminished.
Cyber-Bullying is a relatively new phenomenon, so it can be tough for parents to know what to watch out for or how to help. However, if you identify the signs, then it’s time to sit down and talk to your child about what you believe they are experiencing. Talk to school administrators and the parents of the children involved to address the situation before it worsens. Prompt action from concerned adults is often all it takes to help cease Cyber-Bullying and prevent it from affecting your child as well as other children.
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