Cyberbullying is a crime that emerged with the birth of the internet. It took time to realise what cyberbullying is and that it is an equally serious crime as the ones that take place physically. Many times, the victim does not realise when the bullying starts to take its course. A lot of these victims are teens who aren’t quite aware of how to react when stuck in such situations. Being an adult, it is our responsibility to help children around us to understand what cyberbullying is and how to tackle it. We found some really helpful tips on www.connectsafely.org and here is what you need to know about how to identify if a child is being cyberbullied and how to stop it as a guardian.
1. Signs To Look For
While these signs may not be related to cyberbullying only, they could very well lead to it in many cases. If your child is experiencing trouble falling asleep, avoiding to go to school, showing decreasing self-esteem, having repeated nightmares, has grades going down, feeling helpless, constantly checking social media or their phones, and are too concerned about anyone touching their phones, it could be a sign of them being cyberbullied.
2. Create A Safe Space
It is extremely important to make your child feel completely safe to talk to you about anything and everything. This will not happen in just a day. It will take years of trust-building and open communication. You need to let your child know that no matter how bad a situation might get, you will always be there for them. One way is to ask them often about how their experience has been so far using social media and if they have faced any major or minor harassment or bullying online. You could also ask them how they would tackle such situations, so as to understand their fears and how they feel. This will help you in approaching them to open up with you.
3. Listen To Them
When your child comes to you to talk about it, consider yourself lucky that they trust you to open up blindly. The situation could hurt you, but you need to understand that what your child is going through is much worse. If you react in a negative way to their confession, you could be pushing your child into a shell forever. There could be many sides to the story so you will have to consider more than one perspective. If a child feels that their voice is unheard, they will stop letting out their feelings which could lead to serious mental health issues.
4. React Thoughtfully, Not Quickly
Many times, a parent or guardian could worsen the situation by reacting rashly. To know that your child is being cyberbullied or harassed is devastating. But you need to be wise and take one step at a time. The most important thing is to have evidence in the form of printouts and screenshots. This way, you preserve the evidence which cannot be wiped out by the offender in any way. Report it to the concerned platform. If they are receiving threats about physical harm or anything else, do not hesitate to take it to the police.
5. Focus On Their Recovery
In this process, do not forget that your child could be going through a lot of mental pressure. It is so important to talk to them about how they are feeling and remind them that it is not their fault. When a child is bullied, they lose a part of their self-esteem to a great extent. So, if you blame them too or don’t support them, chances are their mental health could worsen. Include your child into finding a solution that’ll end the cyberbullying. If they are excluded, they tend to blame themselves and feel ashamed. This process could help them regain their confidence and will feel like they have control over a situation.
Cyberbullying is very different from physical bullying. Usually, a stronger, bulkier person picks on smaller, weaker victims. But when it comes to cyberbullying, everybody is equally vulnerable. The bully could be anyone; irrespective of gender, age, strength; sitting behind a computer screen. When a child just enters the internet world, it is important to make them understand how it works. If they make a mistake, teach them instead of punishing them. Cyberbullying has and continues to claim teen lives in large numbers. Help your child feel fearlessly comfortable to discuss such issues with you. This could end up saving a potential disaster. It is time we take this issue seriously and come together to eradicate it from society.