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What Should I Do If My Child Is Bullied Online?

Text: Q&A

Finding out that your child has been cyberbullied is emotional. You or your child might want to retaliate, but it's best to help your child deescalate the situation. Give them strategies to protect themselves and try to stop the bullying. Here are the immediate steps we recommend for parents and caregivers:

  • Reassure your child that you love and support them.

  • Help your child step away from the computer or device and take a break.

  • If you can identify the bully, and it's another child, consider talking with their parents.

  • Consider contacting your child's school. If bullying is happening online, it might be happening offline, too.

  • Empower your child with specific steps they can take (see below).

Kids may not always recognize teasing as bullying. Some kids may also be too embarrassed or ashamed to talk to adults about it. It's important to talk about safe online behavior with kids before they start going online or get their own phone.

To prepare your child for going online, or if you know they're being bullied, share these steps they can take right away:

Turn off the screen. Ignore the attacks and walk away.

Don't respond or retaliate. If you're angry or hurt, you might say things you'll regret later. People who cyberbully often want to get a reaction out of you, so don't let them know their plans have worked.

Block the bully. If you get mean messages through social media, take the person off your friends list or block them. You can also delete messages from the person without reading them.

Use reporting tools. Many apps and websites offer ways you can report or flag bullying. The site might block or suspend the user.

Save or take a screenshot of bullying messages. If the harassment continues, save the evidence. This could be important proof to show parents or teachers if the bullying doesn't stop.

Talk to a friend. When someone makes you feel bad, it can help to talk the situation over with a friend.

Tell a trusted adult. A trusted adult is someone you believe will listen and who has the skills, desire, and authority to help you. Telling an adult isn't tattling -- it's standing up for yourself. And even if the bullying occurs online, your school probably has rules against it.

Common Sense Media

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