Cyber-Bullying

September 15, 2008 11:37:56 AM PDT
Find out what you need to know about cyber-bullying. Family therapist and columnist for Chicago Parent Magazine Jennifer Dubose has some tips to protect your children. Cyber-Bullying Facts:
  • Takes place on-line and via text messages to cell phones
  • Cyberbullies usually know their targets
  • 42% of kids in grades 4-8 report being bullied on-line and 58% never tell
Cyberbullying can be experienced as harsher than other kinds of bullying because:
  • There is a greater 'distance' between bully and target, diminishing a bully's inhibitions
  • Home feels like less of a safe haven as cyberbullies can reach their targets there
  • It is far-reaching: rumors and personal information can quickly be broadcast to many others
  • Bullies can hide behind anonymous cyber ID's, which creates a sense of the "faceless bully"
Warning signs your child may already be the target of a cyberbully:
  • Loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping
  • School avoidance or declining grades
  • Diminished interest in friends or activities
  • Dramatic increase or decrease in time spent on-line, or in cell phone bills
  • (These can also be signs of depression, a potential side-effect of bullying)
What's a parent to do?
  • Keep internet access in a public place (never in child's bedroom)
  • Explain the risks. Teach children to never reveal password or personal information they wouldn't want their whole class to read
  • Be alert for any warning signs
  • Tell kids to save and print out evidence of bullying behavior, and to tell a responsible adult. Bear in mind that kids often don't tell because they fear parents will revoke their internet privileges
  • Report bullying to ISP and alert police if it involves threats to harm
  • Block cyberbullies' messages and e-mails
  • Make sure children understand that bullying of any kind isn't their fault
  • Encourage children to befriend kids who are bullied
  • Share information with other parents
  • Best tip? Ramp up the rapport with your kids

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