What should I do if my kid is bullied online?
Finding out that your kid has been cyberbullied is emotional for parents. You or your kid might want to retaliate, but it's best to help your kid defuse the situation, protect himself, and make rational efforts to put a stop to the bullying. Here are the immediate steps we recommend for parents:
- Reassure your child that you love and support him or her.
- Help your child step away from the computer or device and take a break.
- If you can identify the bully, consider talking with the parents.
- Consider contacting your kid's school. If bullying is happening online, it might be happening offline, too.
- Empower your kid with specific steps he or she can take.
Kids may not always recognize teasing as bullying. Some kids also may be too embarrassed or ashamed to talk to their parents about it. That's why it's important to talk about online and digital behavior before your child starts interacting with others online and with devices. To prepare your kid for going online or getting a cell phone, or, if you know he or she has been bullied online, offer these steps he or she can take immediately:
Sign off the computer. Ignore the attacks and walk away from the cyberbully.
Don't respond or retaliate. If you're angry or hurt, you might say things you'll regret later. Cyberbullies 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 IM or a social-networking site, take the person off your buddy or friends list. You also can delete messages from bullies without reading them.
Save and print out 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, sometimes 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.