Know the signs and how to address cyberbullying

CUSP Educational Services specialized providing tailored-made supports for high school and college students.  Even though we treat each client on an individual basis, we often see some common issues among clients.  One of these issues happens to be cyberbullying.  CUSP has extensive experience with this topic and has developed college classes for students that address this unfortunate topic.  Below is some information on cyberbullying, how to notice and address this concern.  If you have specific concerns please feel free to contact CUSP today for a free and confidential consultation.

 

No parent wants to imagine that their child could be cyberbullied, but the reality is that this type of behavior affects many kids and teens. According to statistics from the i-SAFE Foundation, over half of adolescents have been bullied online. About 1 in 3 adolescents have received cyber threats, and over 25% have been bullied repeatedly. As common as cyberbullying is, it’s still something that creates feelings of shame and embarrassment for the victim, which is probably why over half of young victims don’t tell their parents about the abuse.

 

What Actions Count as Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying can be defined as any one of the following actions:

  • Sending mean messages or threats
  • Spreading rumors
  • Posting hurtful or threatening messages on social media
  • Stealing a person’s account information to break into their account and send damaging messages
  • Pretending to be someone else to hurt another person
  • Taking unflattering photos of someone and sending them to others online
  • Sexting or sharing suggestive pictures or messages about someone

 

Spot the Signs

Cyberbullying is nothing to take lightly. It can have damaging consequences such as low self-esteem, a drop in grades, withdrawal from social activities, depression and thoughts of suicide. Here are some of the most noticeable warning signs that your child may be being cyberbullied.

 

  • Nervous or upset about using the computer
  • Becomes mad or upset after using an electronic device
  • Closes out of windows when you walk by
  • Secretive behavior
  • Withdraws from family, friends and activities
  • Suffers an unexplained drop in grades
  • Refuses to go to school or other activities
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Shows signs of depression or anxiety
  • Sleep problems

 

If Your Child is Being Cyberbullied

So what happens when your suspicions are confirmed? How do you handle the situation when your child is being cyberbullied?

 

The best way to address the situation is to save the hurtful messages and report them to the police. You can also seek appropriate legal advice. Do not send any responses back, and encourage your child to stay offline as well. You may also report incidents to the ISP, the website or the cell phone company used in the bullying. You should then change your child’s phone number or email address.

 

Many schools have protocols in place for handling this type of bullying, so feel free to discuss the incidents with your child’s school. Always ask your child first, though, as they may prefer to handle things privately.

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