Parents need to learn to recognize the signs that our kids might be the target of cyberbullying and harassment, and how to get the information you need, even if our kids are reluctant to talk.
Observe each child individually and compare with how he/she was before. Seven signs your kids are harassed, abused or cyberbullied are:
- Have they stopped checking their phones? Do they forget or break or lose their phones? Do they get upset, depressed or angry when they look at their phones?
- Have their grades slipped? Have they become reluctant to go to school? Do they want to transfer schools?
- Have they stopped after-school activities? Do they want you to pick them up after school?
- Have they stopped talking about school? Do they say that kids are jerks? Do they ask about kids ganging up on other kids?
- Have they become emotionally labile – very sensitive, easily upset, moody, grumpy, cry a lot? Have they given up? Do they talk about how hopeless or pointless life is or do they seem depressed or do they talk about suicide?
- Do they isolate themselves – no longer follow social networks, hide in their rooms after school, stop using the computer? Have they stopped taking care of their personal stuff or how they look? Do they say that former friends aren’t friends any more?
- Have they stopped eating? Do they have trouble sleeping or have nightmares?
After you think you’ve seen signs that your kid might be subjected to cyberbullying, harassment or abuse at school, the next step in stopping cyberbullying is to get the information you need, even if your kid is reluctant to talk.
You must be willing to pry and be persistent, no matter how reluctant your child is to talk.
Five questions you can ask are:
- What’s happening?
- Tell me about cyberbullying, harassment and abuse at school?
- How do the teachers, principal, bus drivers and cafeteria staff protect kids in your school from cyberbullies or drama?
- What happens in your school’s anti-cyberbullying program?
- How do you and your friends stand up to cyberbullies when you see other kids being ganged up on through their computers or phones?
Don’t be a tyrant or inquisitor, but do keep asking.
If you suspect your kid is being subjected to cyberbullying, you can also get information by:
- Checking your kid’s texts and messages.
- Looking at your kid’s social network pages or what’s being said about them.
- Asking the parents of your kid’s friends.
- Asking teachers, counselors, principal, school district administrators and school board members about cyberbullying and harassment.
Cyberbullying is beyond school and social network “drama.” It can have terrible effects on kids and it may be a criminal offense.
Consult a specialist lawyer and your police department. Do they have a special unit dedicated to stopping cybercrimes? Have representatives spoken at school?
Learn how to make reluctant school administrators take action, even if they say that cyberbullying has been off-campus.
Cyberbullies at school are haters and emotional manipulators. They try to make your kid feel helpless and hopeless. They isolate him.
Your kid can never be kind, nice, sweet or caring enough to change these school cyberbullies. She’s not the rescuer or therapist to solve their psychological problems. She shouldn’t debate or argue with them, but also shouldn’t ignore them.
If we don’t stop cyberbullies, they’ll think we’re easy prey; they’ll just go after us more.
- Teach your kids to protect themselves, just like they would if they were growing up in the wilderness where there are predators who would eat them.
- Protect your kids from school administrators who won’t defend targets and who may even encourage or collude with cyberbullying kids and their bullying parents.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, expert coaching by phone or Skype helps. Call me at 1-877-8Bullies to design a plan that fits you and your kid's situation at school. And build your will and skill to carry it out effectively.