My child with special needs is being cyberbullied. What should I do?

Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can create problems for kids with special needs who might be targeted because of their differences.

Keep an eye on the sites your kid visits at home, and, depending on your kid's level of independence, use parental controls to block instant messages, chat rooms, and emails from all but trusted friends. If bullying, either online or off, becomes a problem, it may be necessary for you to advocate for your kid so he feels safe when he goes to school or participates in an after-school activity.

If you feel your child is being cyberbullied, it's important to let your school administrators know. Although no federal law directly addresses bullying, in some cases bullying overlaps with discriminatory harassment when it's based on disability, among other things. When bullying and harassment overlap, federally funded schools (including colleges and universities) have an obligation to resolve the harassment.

When the situation is not adequately resolved, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division may be able to help.

Make sure also to monitor your child's mood. Children who are being bullied can experience deep suffering and may develop depression. Some even attempt suicide. Make sure your child knows that he is loved and valued by you and plenty of other people. Look out for signs of depression, and don't hesitate to contact a mental health professional.

The Child Mind Institute contributed to this article. Learn more at childmind.org.

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Comments

Teen, 13 years old written by Speckledhyena

I've never been made fun of for having Asperger's, but I know people who have been. The jokes people make about this kind of thing aren't funny at all.
Kid, 12 years old

Usually, it's normal for people to make offensive jokes on the internet about people with special needs and tragic events. This is something they have called dark humor. I am autistic, and I am actually fine with this stuff, as I know this is their opinion and it is not right for me to insult them. Cyberbullying can easily be prevented as-well -- you block them.
Teen, 16 years old written by studioghiblifan

I have Asperger's and I myself often find that there is a lack of understanding from many social networks on how to deal with cases of cyberbullying involving a party/ parties with Special Educational Needs. Personally, I feel this is due to a lack of training and I think more sites need to have the knowledge on how to handle cases like this and keep those with Special Educational Needs safe. Of course, with any part of the Internet, the risk of cyberbullying is always open, but with better support, there is more of an opportunity to nip it in the bud and to help those with Special Educational Needs have a positive experience on the net.
Teen, 13 years old written by yeahImaBrony164

Sorry, Carson that sounded more offensive than helpful. What I meant was you can either run away from these problems, or put some work and effort into making them leave you/your kid alone. I know from personal experience, I have autism and ADHD. Sure, you won't hear from them, but the knowledge their still trying at least to me means I didn't do it right. Because they're probably just gonna bully another person.
Teen, 14 years old written by s13ep

If you know who it is block all their numbers and contacts also next time you see them have a chat to their parents and say 1. my child seems to think s/he is getting bullied and according to their number its your son/daughter , if not block everything anyway, after that maybe talk to a teacher and treat your child saying everythings ok im dealing with it and maybe ghet them something nice to eat ajnd do something so they dont feel they have to check their phone
Teen, 14 years old written by colorguard16

Ask them to show you who's being rude and block their accounts so they can't see or interact with your kid's profile. People can be so incredibly nasty, just ignore them, they do it out of ignorance.