Cyber Bullying- Is your child a victim?
What is cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying is when a child under 18 harasses, threatens, intimidates, embarrasses or humiliates another minor using the Internet or mobile phones. The same behavior by adults is called cyber stalking or cyber harassment. Cyber bullies use a variety of methods to hurt their victims.
Children are often victimized by having their social networking accounts hacked. Once the password has been obtained, the bully can change the password to the account, send inappropriate messages from the account to the victims friends or change the photos on the account. Cyber bullies also commonly make fake accounts that impersonate their victim. The bullies use these accounts to portray the victim as racist, homophobic or promiscuous. Real photos and personal information may be used to embarrass the victim.
Cyber bullies also use mobile phones to harass their victims. Bullies send multiple text messages and even enlist the assistance of other people to send messages to the victim. These messages can be harassing or just annoying. No matter what the messages say, the victim is likely to be in trouble with his parents for the high phone bill. An unusually high number of text messages sent to your child's cell phone may be an indicator of a problem and an opportunity to stop cyber bullying before it becomes a dangerous situation.
How to tell if your child is the victim of a cyber bully
The signs that your child is being cyber bullied may not be obvious. Children don't come home from school with black eyes or hungry because their lunch money was taken when they are cyber bullied. Though the signs are not the same as parents may remember as signs of bullying when they were younger, it is still possible to tell if your child is being bullied online so you can stop cyber bullying before any permanent damage is done.
A teen who is being cyber bullied may appear stressed during or after online activity. They may also exhibit traditional signs such as withdrawal from social activities or acting out for no apparent reason. In addition to monitoring accounts for signs that your child is being bullied, parents can help stop cyber bullying by recognizing when their own child may be the bully.
Preventing cyber bullying
It is important for parents and children to have conversations about online etiquette and ways to deal with inappropriate messages. Teens who receive a threatening or menacing message online should know who they can tell about the messages to stop cyber bullying with the first contact. Maintaining communication with your children and monitoring cell phones and social network accounts are two of the best ways to stop cyber bullying.
In response to recent tragic situations related to online bullying, many states have enacted laws and others have proposed statues to outlaw the use of electronics to bully another person. When teens know that the consequences to cyber bullying can include being arrested in addition to parental punishments such as loss of their cell phone or social media account, they may be less likely to use the internet to bully other children.