What is cyberbullying?
According to the RCMP, cyberbullying includes:
- Sending mean or threatening emails or text/instant messages.
- Posting embarrassing photos of someone online.
- Creating a website to make fun of others.
- Pretending to be someone by using their name.
- Tricking someone into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to others.
Additionally, many forms of cyberbullying are considered illegal in Canada such as criminal harassment, uttering threats, extortion, and identity theft.
How to tell if your child is being cyberbullied:
It can be difficult for parents to know if their child is being bullied. Teens and tweens don’t often share their online interactions with their parents until a situation becomes unbearable.
Maintaining open conversation about technology use with your child is the most effective way to know if something inappropriate is happening. StopBullying.gov suggests that if you notice your child seems upset or angry about something they’ve just seen or read on their phone, say something like: “You look upset after seeing your phone.” Then ask non-judgemental questions about what is happening. Try to listen and validate your child’s feelings before rushing to fix the problem. Encourage your child to suggest ways to remediate the issue.
There are other signs that your child may be a victim of cyberbullying. These may include withdrawing from friends and family and spending a lot of time alone, not letting family members near their devices and finding excuses to stay away from school and social events.
What to do if your child is being cyberbullied:
If your child is a victim of cyberbullying, the key steps you and your child need to take are:
- Don’t respond or retaliate.
- Block the bully from all platforms such as blocking the phone number and screen names from all social media sites and email.
- Document the evidence. Write down occurrences of bullying and take screenshots and/or print out online messages.
- Report the bullying to the social media site. Go to the site’s support section and look for “Safety Centre”, “Parent Info” or “Community Guidelines” for help on reporting the instances.
- Report criminal offences such as threats and exploitation to the local police.
- Tell a trusted adult such as a teacher or school administrator.
Lastly, remind your child that it’s not okay to be a bystander to any type of bullying. According to PrevNet, bystanders are present in 90% of bullying situations and they can often stop the bullying within 10 seconds if they intervene.