31 Aug Guest Article: New Kid: Dealing With Cyberbullies by Laura Pearson
Photo by J_O_I_D
Moving to a new city is never an easy thing to do, no matter how old you are. However, it can be particularly difficult for children. They lose the comfort of familiarity and their sense of stability more easily than adults. And if this isn’t resolved, the consequences can be quite devastating. According to an article published by Psychology Today, children who have recently moved to a new city or state tend to have more behavioral problems, perform poorly in school and are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. On top of that, your child may be open to a world of bullying, which has now adopted modern technology.
This new form of bullying is known as cyberbullying. The official definition of cyberbullying, is defined by the National Crime Prevention Council as any form of bullying that takes place over email, text messages or social networking sites. Some specific examples include tricking the victim into sharing personal information and posting it on social media, sending mean or threatening messages to the victim, creating web pages making fun of the victim, or pretending to be the victim.
According to an article published by PBS, 1 in 3 children say they’ve been the victim of cyberbullying. Other studies, such as one published by the Cyberbullying Research Center, say that 28 percent of middle schoolers and high schoolers have experienced cyberbullying over the past nine years.
One key difference between schoolyard bullying and cyberbullying is that cyberbullying isn’t restricted to a physical location — it can potentially take place 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This can wreak havoc on the victim’s self-esteem. A 2015 article published by Scientific American confirmed the correlation between cyberbullying and depression among its victims. In fact, The Independent published an article in 2010 claiming that half of the suicides among children between the ages of 10-14 were the result of cyberbullying.
One difficulty you may have as a parent is that your child may not communicate with you if they are the victim of cyberbullying. Only by fostering open and honest communication with your child, free of judgment or embarrassment, will you be able to help them. Oftentimes, children are ashamed of being a bully’s victim.
The best advice you can give your child if they are a victim of cyberbullying is to not respond to the bully. Any response or reaction will only fuel further confrontation. If the bully is met with silence, they have nothing to feed off of.
If your child is being continually harassed, make sure they document all of the incriminating material. This material can then be sent to your Internet Service Provider so that action can be taken to prevent further harassment. You can also utilize privacy features that can block the bully or bullies from contacting your child. Documenting all instances of harassment can also help aid any legal action you may need to take in the future.
One of the best things you can do as a parent is to create a stress-free home environment for your child as they adjust to a new city. Offering a safe and structured living space gives them the comfort and predictability they may lack in the outside world. Having regularly scheduled meals, games and sports activities are a few simple ways to provide this stability. Make sure your home is clean and free of clutter, and that your child has a safe and comfortable place to relax. Set aside time to be away from an Internet connection with your child, but also be aware of your child’s online habits.
It’s also a good idea to keep close tabs on how your child uses their phone and computer. You can start by talking to them about appropriate usage and behaviors. But you can also make it fun by playing online games together or using technology to share stories or jokes. Checking in and communicating regularly with your child allows you to set the stage for the long term. Plus, they’re more likely to feel comfortable talking to you about a problem like cyberbullying.
By familiarizing yourself with their new friends and activities, you can be also more aware of any bullying your child may be experiencing. This will help foster open communication as you adjust to the next chapter of your lives in a new city.
Written by Laura Pearson – www.edutude.net