Many kids don’t tell their parents that they’re being cyberbullied. Kids might feel embarrassed or ashamed to let you know they’ve been targeted. They also might be afraid your involvement will make things worse. But, if you find out your kid has been cyberbullied, it probably means the issue is major enough for you to get involved.
Try this: Collect more facts by talking the situation through with your kid. Work out a plan of action together. Make sure you and your kid agree on what the outcome should be. Ramp up your efforts as the situation demands.
Another reason not to rush to a solution: Research indicates that peers sticking up for each other is a very effective defense against bullies. Bullies work by trying to isolate their victims. When kids rally around the target, it thwarts the bully. Encourage your kid to reach out to friends for support.
If your kid is being bullied by someone he or she knows, it’s a good idea to talk it over — face to face — with the kid’s parents. These steps can help you get on the same page and resolve the conflict together:
Schedule a meeting. Although your impulse may be to confront the kid’s parents immediately, it’s better to set a time to meet and discuss the situation when everyone’s feeling calm.
Explain that you’re there for your kid. Say that your kid reported the incident and you want to follow up. That takes the heat off the parents and allows you both to discuss your kids’ actions.
State your goal. Yes, you’re angry and hurt, but your goal should go beyond blaming. You want to end the bullying and have your kids stop engaging in destructive behavior.
Let the other parents talk. Hear them out; they may have information you don’t know about.
Bring the evidence. Show printouts or the devices on which the bullying occurred.
Work together. As much as possible, try to enlist the other parent so you can work as a united front.
Talk about next steps. Create a plan for how to proceed as well as a check-in schedule so you can see how things are progressing. Depending on whether things calm down or escalate, you may need to bring in a neutral party — a teacher, a counselor, even a community leader — to deal with the problem and help you all move forward.
Of course, if there are any real threats to your child’s safety, you should contact the authorities immediately.
Common Sense Media recommends these immediate steps:
Kids may not always recognize teasing as bullying. Some kids also may be too embarrassed or ashamed to talk to their parents about it. That’s why it’s important to talk about online and digital behavior before your child starts interacting with others online and with devices. To prepare your kid for going online or getting a cell phone, or, if you know he or she has been bullied online, offer these steps he or she can take immediately:
Sign off the computer. Ignore the attacks and walk away from the cyberbully.
Don’t respond or retaliate. If you’re angry or hurt, you might say things you’ll regret later. Cyberbullies often want to get a reaction out of you, so don’t let them know their plans have worked.
Block the bully. If you get mean messages through IM or a social-networking site, take the person off your buddy or friends list. You also can delete messages from bullies without reading them.
Save and print out bullying messages. If the harassment continues, save the evidence. This could be important proof to show parents or teachers if the bullying doesn’t stop.
Talk to a friend. When someone makes you feel bad, sometimes it can help to talk the situation over with a friend.
Tell a trusted adult. A trusted adult is someone you believe will listen and who has the skills, desire, and authority to help you. Telling an adult isn’t tattling — it’s standing up for yourself. And, even if the bullying occurs online, your school probably has rules against it.