Cyberbullying has become all too common in Canada. According to PREVNet, one in three Canadian adolescents report having recently been bullied, and 47% of parents say that they’ve had a child who has been a victim of cyberbullying. If you become one of these parents, follow these steps:
Talk to Your Child About Cyberbullying
If you think your child won’t come to you if they’re being bullied, you can find a way to bring up bullying when you’re alone together. You can say something about a story you saw in the news about bullying or ask your child open-ended questions about how they use technology.
Take Time to Understand the Situation
It may sound absurd to you if your child reports that a YouTube star they follow is encouraging their fans to harass your child or an argument between fellow gamers over Xbox has escalated into threats and posted addresses, but these are real social spaces and they’re important to your child. Take a few minutes to understand the nature of the online interaction, particularly how things are supposed to work versus how they’re working for your child.
Listen Without Over-Reacting
Get the whole story from your child and ask clarifying questions. Don’t criticize them for how they’ve handled the situation and reassure them that everything will be okay.
Tell Your Child Not to Engage
Your child should not respond to further bullying attempts. Online bullies and trolls feed on that kind of validation.
Copy or save all evidence of bullying, be they texts, emails, chat logs, posts on social networks, snapchats, or whatever. Save or screen capture everything and make a note of the date.
Block Further Bullying Attempts
Report the Cyberbullying to Your Child’s School
If your child’s bully attends your child’s school, the school should be made aware of the situation. Most schools have specific anti-bullying policies in place and many can provide further resources to help you. Keep a record of any meetings you have with the school and send follow-up emails to help create a paper trail.
Know When to Escalate to the Police
The following constitute valid reasons to contact the police:
- Threats of physical harm or violence
- The exchange of intimate photos of someone under the age of 18
- Victim stalking
- Hacking into someone else’s devices or account
These are all serious crimes and law enforcement must be notified.
Get Help Removing a Picture From the Internet
It isn’t always possible to get a picture out of digital space, especially if it’s been widely shared, but there is help. Visit NeedHelpNow.ca for help getting pictures removed from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google, a peer’s phone, and more.
The Bottom Line
A child might need extra help and support recovering from bullying. If your child shows signs of isolation, anxiety, depression, sleep loss, or self-harm, don’t hesitate to involve a mental help professional. If you need more resources, check out PREVNet, Canada’s authority on research and resources for bullying prevention.