Helping Your Child Deal With Cyberbullies

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.

Photo by Free-Photos (Pixabay)

The Dangers of Cyber-bullying and Teaching Children Anti-bullying Strategies

The Dangers of Cyber-bullying and Teaching Children Anti-bullying Strategies

We live in the age of technology, and children are no strangers to the use of the Internet for homework, gaming, socializing, and learning. Many of the sites that children spend time surfing, including social media sites and social web games, can usually be places fueled with positive interactions and connection.  But sometimes, such sites can also be a space thriving with bullies ready to intimidate a child with anonymous threats and inappropriate comments.

Part of the role as a parent in our contemporary society is to prepare our children to face bullies, both in person and on the web. Otherwise, a child who faces cyber-bullying is all the more likely to confront challenges as they age, such as using alcohol and drugs, skipping school, and having lower self-esteem.

In order to teach a child positive strategies to handle bullying, we must be empathetic in our approach. The following strategies can help a child seek constructive solutions to harassment in any social setting:

  • Normalize the bullying situation by sharing your own experiences and how you dealt with them growing up
  • Help your child to understand the roots of bullying—digging deep to explain why a person may be being mean or hurtful to another
  • Do not equate bullies with irreparable meanness; instead, use empathy to understand that a bully may actually be deeply sad
  • Teach your child to always report cyber-bullying and to never let it go unchecked or unseen by an adult

With these strategies in mind, your child will be more likely to handle bullies in a constructive manner. For other tips, see this guide to helping your child face bullying both at school and on the web.

Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash

The Truth About Cyber Bullying

The Truth About Cyber Bullying

The Internet has given bullies, who once harassed their peers on the playground, the anonymity and confidence to threaten and intimidate anyone from anywhere. Harassment of any kind through electronic communication is what is known as cyber bullying, and this phenomenon originated with cell phones and the Internet and, unfortunately, it continues to thrive today. While we often hear about cyber bullying in the news, it can be hard to grasp just how big of an issue this modern form of abuse can be– because of this, education and action need to become major areas of focus in combating this problem.

Cyber Bullying Statistics

  • 43% of kids have been cyber bullied — 1 in 4 have experienced it more than once.
  • 34% of students surveyed in 2016 have been harassed online at some point in their lives, which is almost double the amount reported by students of similar ages in 2007.
  • 68% of teens agree that cyber bullying is a serious problem.
  • 80% of cyber bullying occurs via smartphone in the form of texting or social media.
  • The most common types of bullying online are hurtful comments (14.3%) followed by rumors being spread (13.3%).
  • Young girls are twice as likely to partake in cyber bullying, both as the bully and the victim, than their male peers.

By taking a look at the figures above, it is obvious that cyber bullying is a huge issue. It’s such an issue that it has become the main focus of the First Lady’s platform.

Melania Trump’s Fight Against Cyber Bullying

Just as Former First Lady, Michelle Obama, used her platform to help children fight childhood obesity through her program, Let’s Move: America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids, new First Lady, Melania Trump, has chosen an issue that impacts children across the country for her platform as well: cyber bullying. In a speech leading up to the election, she said,

“We have to find a better way to talk to each other, to disagree with each other, to respect each other. We must find better ways to honor and support the basic goodness of our children, especially in social media. It will be one of the main focuses of my work, if I’m privileged enough to become your First Lady.”

-Melania Trump

Mrs. Trump has experienced bullying online herself, and some have even gone as far as to ridicule her ten year old son, Barron Trump. While the majority of people across party lines find this behavior reprehensible, it continues to happen–adults speak ill of a child, simply because of their views on his father. This alone could be the reason she has decided to take a stance against online bullies. While many believe her husband to be a social media cyber bully on Twitter, having the issue of cyber bullying at the top of the First Lady’s mind will hopefully impact the situation in a positive way by bringing to light this all-too-common problem.

Education & Action: Our Best Chance of Beating Cyber Bullying

Being aware of cyber bullying as an issue is the first step in stopping the abuse, and though some of the statistics above might seem staggering and hard to beat, there are some things we can do as a community to discourage people from cyber bullying and encourage people to be the good by supporting one another.

1. Limit children’s time in front of screens
2. Teach your children how to handle issues with others without bullying– Many students who said they experienced bullying also admitted to being bullies themselves, by teaching children to handle their issues in ways besides physical or cyber bullying, future generations might not have to experience the same conflicts.
3. Talk to your kids about their activity online– Though it can be a hard conversation to have, talk to your children about which sites you believe are/aren’t appropriate to visit.
4. Teach them to report any bullying they see online to you– Seventy percent of students report seeing frequent bullying online, but only one in ten will actually report it to an adult; this is why adults, including parents, teachers, and family friends, should encourage open communication between them and their children about any cyber bullying they experience or witness while online.

Hailey R. Carlson | Axiom Cyber Solutions | January 27, 2017

~Below, these facts, figures, and possible solutions are summarized in an infographic, brought to you by Axiom~

5 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Sextortion

With texting, social media direct messaging, and apps like Snapchat—a mobile app where one person can send a photo to another that will “self-destruct” in a maximum of 10 seconds—it is easy to see how sexting has pushed its way to the forefront of technology-based communication. However, what if the person you’re messaging or snapping with isn’t who you think it is? What could the personal, intimate image you’re sending to your significant other mean if it fell into the wrong hands? When malicious people get their hands on these types of images, they can use them to extort more compromising images or demand payment with the threat of sending the existing images they have to your friends, family, or coworkers—this is the sexual-cybercrime known as sextortion.

Sextortion occurs when malicious online users obtain compromising images, usually posing as a young person who the victim may or may not think they know, or by hacking into a person’s webcam, which they then use to extort more compromising pictures or videos from the victim or sometimes even monetary payment with the threat of distributing the photos on the internet if the victim does not comply.

There are an expected 6,000+ cases of sextortion, many of which are not reported due to victims’ fear of their attackers exposing their intimate moments to the internet. The primary victims are young adults and minors. While women are the primary adult targets, these cyber-scum prey on both girls and boys under the age of 18, and unfortunately, minors make up a majority of the victims—a whopping 78% of total sextortion victims. One offender was able to trick and control 230 victims, 44 of which were minors. He would get the photos from the unsuspecting victims either by posing as their boyfriends or hacking into their webcams and unexpectedly spying on them. This behavior of having multiple victims is not uncommon due to the massive reach of the internet, making it that much easier for these predators to hook more unsuspecting people into their vicious schemes.

With sextortion becoming such a prevalent and common cybercrime, it is important to educate yourself and others on what signs indicate a sextortionist predator and ways to prevent becoming a sextortion statistic.

How to Prevent Becoming a Sextortion Victim

While there are good people out there working against sextortion on a grand scale, such as Mary Anne Franks of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative who advocates laws that would make distribution of explicit images without the consent of the person pictured illegal, regardless of how the images were obtained, there are some things you can do to help protect yourself from such a crime on an individual level:

Never send compromising photos to anyone, regardless of who you think they are—Even if the image is slightly compromising, sending images to people online and via phones is extremely risky with the increasing abilities of hackers and other malicious people on the internet.

Do not talk to people online who you do not know—again, this seems like an obvious statement, but just because someone appears to be interested in you for whatever reason online, adding people to your networks who you do not personally know is extremely dangerous and can open doors wide open for sextortion predators.

Cover your cameras when not in use—Hackers can gain access to virtually anything they set their minds to if it is poorly protected enough, and that includes your webcam. By placing a webcam cover or even a piece of tape over your webcam, you can prevent hackers from being able to spy on you, even if they can hack into your webcam. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, who has been in a bit of hot water recently with his personal social media account breaches, covers his laptop webcam with a piece of tape. If he is worried about people watching him through that camera, you should be as well.

Make sure your computer’s cybersecurity is up-to-date­­—at least by updating your anti-virus software regularly and not going to any seedy websites, you can reduce the chances of hackers getting into your computer and taking your personal information that way. Most anti-viruses will even allow you to auto-update. Taking multiple steps in protecting your personal cybersecurity will only help you to be more and more secure.

Your personal cybersecurity is more important today than it has ever been, and prevention is key to protection, so make sure you take these precautionary steps to lessen the likelihood of potential attack. However, in the event that you do find that you or a loved one fall victim to online sextortion, you are not alone. Do not continue to send explicit photos to the attacker—that would only be more ammunition that they could potentially use against you. Instead, tell an authority figure about the incident and call the toll-free FBI number 1-800-CALL-FBI to alert them of this crime and hopefully stop this person from further blackmail of you and others.

Hailey Carlson, Marketing Intern, Axiom Cyber Solutions 6/28/2016

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