Helping Your Child Deal With Cyberbullies
Nothing can quite prepare a child for a move to a new city or state. By having an open dialogue, it is easier to gauge how dramatically the change might affect them. Moving to a new home far away can mean the loss of stability. No longer will your child have familiar surroundings, friends, and teachers that may have known your child and watched them grow for years. This loss of stability can have drastic consequences.
A recent article published by Psychology Today claims that children who have recently moved tend to exhibit poor performance in school, bad behavior, and even addiction to drugs and alcohol. It is also possible that being the “new kid” can lead to different types of harassment and bullying.
One of the newer, more common types of harassment among children is known as cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying is any form of harassment that takes place over the use of modern technology. The official definition according to the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) is any form of harassment that takes place over emails, text messages, social media, and other web-based media. Examples of cyber-bullying include tricking someone into revealing personal information and sharing it publicly, sending threatening emails or text messages, and creating a website dedicated to making fun of the victim.
What makes cyberbullying so disastrous for the victim is that it can take place wherever there is an Internet connection. It isn’t just limited to the school yard. Therefore, a child can potentially be the victim of cyberbullying 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Cyber-bullying is very common. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, 28 percent of middle schoolers and high schoolers have reported experiencing cyber-bullying over the past eight years. PBS has reported that 1 in 3 children have experienced cyber-bullying.
The effects of cyber-bullying can be tumultuous at best. Not only has there been a correlation between being the victim of cyber-bullying and depression, as reported by Scientific American, but there have been many reports of suicide among victims of cyber-bullying. The Independent published an article in 2010 claiming that half of the suicides among children between the ages of 10-14 were due to cyber-bullying.
As mentioned earlier, communication between you and your kids remains the key to stopping any of the bullying or harassment your child may experience. Many children who are victims of cyberbullying feel a sense of guilt and shame and never tell anyone. Even if you are not aware of your child experiencing harassment, talk with them. Have a conversation about what your child should do if they ever experience cyberbullying or any other types of harassment.
If your child is experiencing cyber-bullying, tell them not to respond in any way to the bully. Any response will only fuel the harassment. Make sure to document any threatening correspondence between your child and the bully so that your Internet Service Provider can be notified and take proper action. There are tools with most social media and messaging services that allow you to block certain people—make sure your child is aware of this and utilizes these features if they are getting unwanted messages.
It can also prove beneficial to create a stress-free home environment for your child. This can help both with the anxiety of moving to a new city or state, as well as the stress of potential bullies. Try to create an organized and clean living space that is free of clutter. To add to your child’s comfort, make sure they have a safe and comfortable place to relax.
Having scheduled meals, games or sports activities can help add to the structure and predictability that can help reduce your child’s stress. Sports, especially, offer physical exercise and the potential of making new friends, both of which are proven to reduce anxiety and depression.
Just remember to have open communication and dialogue with your child so you can offer them the help, resources, or guidance they may need.
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