Top ways to prevent cyberbullying for children

by Jana Rooheart
(Kansas City)

“When people hurt you, think of them as sandpaper. They may hurt you a bit, but at the end of the day, you end up beautifully polished while they end up useless”.

Cyberbullying is a rising problem; with more than 45% of kids age 9-17 affected, it became one of the most extreme online dangers. Cyberbullying or as it is also known online bullying, is almost the same as traditional bullying. Only this time children use modern technology to harass and torment each other.
According to the recent survey kids spend around 3-4 hours a day online. They access the Internet via smartphones almost 80% of the time, making it the most common medium for cyberbullying. To prove our words below is the recent statistics on cyberbullying.

• 45% of children have experienced cyberbullying
• 35% of teens admit to be online bullies’ targets
• More than 70% of teenagers admit to have witnessed bullying online but were too scared to do anything
• 90% of cyberbullying attacks are held via commenting and chatting in social media, IM chats or basic texting
• Online bullying is one of the top suicidal factors for teens
• Only 1 out of 10 cyberbullying victims will inform their parents about online attacks
Although, the statistics are rather devastating, there are ways you can avoid or even prevent cyberbullying.
For teens and kids:
First of all you need to understand that it is not your fault you are being bullied. Unlike traditional bullies, cyberbullies are hiding under their computers as they are actually scared to interact face to face. There numerous reasons why kids bully, usually it falls under three categories:

1. Family problems
2. Insecurity
3. Envy

In 90% of the time, online bullies’ victims are creative and unusual children, which cannot but prove that kids who bully you are simply envying you because you are special.
Reaction is what online bullies are looking for. Do not respond to their hateful messages. Remember the famous proverb: “You reflect what you feel”. This means that bullies are actually rather unhappy and sad and it wouldn’t be wise to let this hate into your life.
There is one good thing that varies online bullying from the traditional one, you can save the evidence. Make screenshots of each and every hateful comment and message. By now there are ways to protect yourself as cyberbullying is no longer an unknown danger. Moreover, online bullying is considered a real crime in several states of the US and Canada.
If it really gets you, you have to remember that there are people who will help you. Tell your parents or a teacher about your problem. Join anti-bullying clubs like U.G.L.Y and stand up for others as there is no bigger power than understanding that you can help others. This will make you stronger and happier.

For parents and teachers:
Follow your child’s reaction whenever she/he is online. If your child is expressing anger or anxiety after going online it means that there is a problem. Have a conversation first. Tell your child everything there is about cyberbullying. Ask what she/he knows about the problem, follow the reaction to make it clear which side your kid is on.
Parental controls. There are apps that allow you to monitor social media websites like Facebook and Instagram, IM chats like Skype, WhatsApp, Kik and Viber to see what kind of messages your child receives. You can also view all incoming/outgoing text messages to make sure your child is in a cyberbullying-free zone. Choose a special alerting system that will inform you each time your kid receives messages that contain dirty language or any preselected words like “hate”, kill yourself” etc. If you are a parent, you may follow the example of thousands parents in the world and to use the easy way to monitor your child's text messages on android . Some people see it as a violation of privacy, but more and more parents seem to consider it a simple protection. All in all, you Don't read all of your kids' messages; you just get alerts of suspicious activity.

If you feel that your child is being cyberbullied you will need to act thoroughly. Rapid decisions won’t help you in such a case. Find the time to listen to your child’s side of story. Be patient, ask questions and be involved in his/her problem. Next step you can talk to the bully’s parents and if needed, turn to your kid’s school teacher or principal.

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Mar 10, 2016
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