There is no denying the short and long term effects of bullying or cyberbullying any longer.
It has become a serious problem throughout the United States, and the consequences of bullying or cyberbullying – both for the bully and the bullied – can be fairly devastating. It’s been estimated that 26% of 1st through 3rd graders experience some type of bullying, and as many as 77% of all students either experience or engage in bullying or cyberbullying at some point in their lives.
Not long ago, bullying or cyberbullying was believed to be less of a problem, and more of a way that children seemed to interact as they start to learn social skills. Today, it’s been found that bullying or cyberbullying has been responsible for 87% of all school shootings, and the vast majority of school dropouts.
Bullying or cyberbullying is no longer an issue that can be swept under the rug.
- The Future of Bullying or Cyberbullying
Unfortunately, while violent bullying is less tolerated, a new form of bullying – known as cyberbullying – has become far more prominent.
Cyberbullying is a type of bullying that takes place on the web, usually through insults or hurtful comments left online in a public arena. Cyberbullying is often seen as a lesser form of bullying since no violence is involved, but the permanence of cyberbullying can actually make it even worse, and because it takes place online and in silence, many parents are unable to help.
All bullying – including cyberbullying – has the potential to lead to long term stress and anxiety that can drastically alter your child’s life and happiness and all bullying needs to be stopped.
There is no quick fix for cyberbullying unless you plan on monitoring everything your child does online (which can present its own problems). But you can reduce the damage and potential of cyberbullying using the following tips.
- Organize Parents
Bullying or cyberbullying takes place between two people – a bully, and a bullied – you can’t stop cyberbullying alone. You need to rally all parents together and make sure that they are not only looking for signs of cyberbullying, but also able to take action if they find their child is the bully.
Parents need to also talk to their kids about whether or not they or someone they know is involved in cyberbullying, and report it back to the families to respond quickly. Without every parent’s involvement, cyberbullying will be difficult to stop.
- Limit Online Time
The longer a child is online, the more they may be subjected to cyberbullying. It doesn’t just come from people they know. They may leave a comment on a blog or website and suddenly be attacked by people they have never met. The less time your child spends online, the less time they can be bullied by others, and the less time they may spend bullying.
- Impose Strict Penalties
There can’t be much leeway in how people respond to cyberbullying. Schools need to prepare strict penalties, and parents need to have penalties of their own.
Punishment is not always the best course of action when someone is involved in cyberbullying, but it does help to ensure that no one is skirting the line and allowing this type of bullying to continue simply because they are unsure or unwilling to take action.
- Pay Attention to Your Child
Look for your child’s reaction to online or offline messages. If they experience any of the signs of bullying, such as anxiety, feeling withdrawn, crying often or losing their willingness to be social, talk to them and try to take action quickly.
Many children show signs of bullying or cyberbullying before it gets out of hand, but parents may fail to notice (perhaps attributing it to growing up) or are unsure how to proceed, and the bullying may only get worse.
- Take Advantage of Therapy and Support Groups
Studies have shown that children may not outgrow childhood anxiety. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you’re providing options for your child in case they need some sort of professional help. Take them to see a counselor, take them to a therapist, find a support group – stopping the bully is only one part of the puzzle.
The other part is giving your child the mental health treatment they need, so regardless of whether they’re the victim of cyberbullying they can learn how to cope with stress and otherwise live with a better quality of life.
Long Term Cyberbullying Help
There are several other avenues you can take as well. Some cyberbullying is now reportable to the police, and others can be sent to websites that will cancel the user’s IP and prevent them from bullying anyone again. But as of yet there is no quick fix to cyberbullying.
You need simply need to continue to work with your child to help them learn coping strategies and stay mentally healthy, and talk to both parents and educators to make sure that what happens to your child online is being monitored.
About the Author: Ryan Rivera has been advocating for more cyberbullying outreach to prevent anxiety and panic attacks from affecting victims of bullying as they grow older.
Ryan provides more information on bullying, cyberbullying and other anxiety tips at CalmClinic.com