Online Safety and Wisdom: Cyberbullying Part 2
Standing Up to Cyberbullying
In our last article, we discussed the pervasiveness and seriousness of cyberbullying among students. Thankfully, parents and school faculty can help prevent and mitigate cyberbullying and its negative impacts.
Most importantly, as parents and educators, we have a responsibility to educate students about online safety and etiquette. Trinity counselor Nancy Linton recommends the following helpful tips from Paul Langan’s 2011 book, Bullying in Schools: What You Need to Know.
Set Online Rules and Guidelines
You may want your children to implement the following rules for their social media accounts:
- Know your "friends." Only "friend" people online whom you know and trust in real life.
- Protect your accounts. Never share passwords or login information.
- Use privacy settings so that only people who are your friends can see your social media profiles.
- Keep private information private. Don’t share home addresses, intimate details about yourself, or any photos you would not want others to see. Remember that once something is public on the internet, it’s out there for anyone to see.
When Cyberbullies Strike
Even when following all these precautions, cyberbullying can still happen. If your child is experiencing cyberbullying, you may want to encourage the following responses:
- Don’t respond online.
- Block the bully/bullies on your phone or online accounts.
- Change your accounts.
- Record the attack(s). Don’t delete anything; this will save details about the cyberbullying and those responsible.
- Talk to a trusted adult. A parent, teacher, coach, or pastor is a valuable resource to help you.
- Report the cyberbullying on the social network site, phone service, or other online platform.
- Report the cyberbullying to a school official. Your school counselors, principal, and teachers need to know so they can help you and curb future cyberbullying.
See Something, Say Something
If you or your child witnesses or suspects someone else is being bullied online:
- Check yourself—don’t dismiss cruel online behavior as a joke.
- Don’t participate.
- Block the sender and his or her attacks.
- Tell the sender to stop.
- Report cyberbullying to the service provider.
- Show support to those being cyberbullied.
- Share what you see with school officials.
- Use the internet to take action against cyberbullying.
If you’d like more information, check out the following links at www.StopBullying.gov (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services):
We Can Make a Difference
Cyberbullying is real and dangerous, particularly for school-age children. Nancy Linton encourages parents to figure out which rules and tips work best for their families. The most important thing is to be aware that students may be facing or participating in cyberbullying and do your best to intervene in either case. Cyberbullying is a huge problem that students today deal with, but together, we can make a huge difference.
About the Author
Jo Wilbur is a Communications Specialist at TCS and proud JMU grad who loves writing, shopping, and making new friends. She and her husband live in Purcellville and spend time together cooking plant-based meals, singing worship songs, and volunteering as Young Life leaders in their community.