High school bullies no longer confine their cruel behavior to the school premises. Now, they even use social media to inflict emotional harm on their target. As a result, victims often suffer lower self-esteem and heightened anxiety. In extreme cases, it may lead them to contemplate suicide.
In such a difficult time, your love and support as a parent can go a long way toward helping your child confront cyberbullying and its damaging effects.
Cyberbullying occurs on digital devices and platforms, spanning social media, online gaming, text messaging, forums and online apps. These platforms make it easy for cyberbullies to share false or damaging information about others or reveal someone’s private information or pictures.
Although California doesn’t have explicit laws on cyberbullying, certain actions related to cyberbullying may violate the state’s penal code.
What you can do
Bullied kids often find it difficult to confide in their parents. Hesitancy usually stems from feeling embarrassed about being a target and looking weak. Some worry that their parents will overreact and escalate the situation, causing the bully to retaliate.
If you suspect your child is being bullied, you can start by helping your child feel safe. Here are a few ways to start:
- Find the right place and time to talk. Your child may not want to talk if they know someone might interrupt or be listening.
- Consider opening with a relatable story. Opening up can be difficult for children. You could initiate things by sharing a personal experience or bringing up a TV show character who might have encountered bullying.
- Keep calm and listen. Stay calm as you listen to your child. Ask questions and take time to extract as much information as you can. If they have any concerns, try to help them.
- Collect evidence. Cyberbullying often leaves a digital footprint in the form of photos, videos or conversations. Document them by taking screenshots or screen recordings.
- Talk to the school. It’s best not to confront the bully’s parents yourself. Instead, you can discuss the situation with the school, along with your evidence, and discuss an action plan.
Should the bullying include threats or cause significant harm to your child, it might be necessary to involve law enforcement. Consulting a lawyer might help you understand your legal options.
Bullying can inflict a serious blow on a child’s self-esteem. As a parent, your presence and support during these challenging times can play a crucial role in helping them regain their confidence.