Parent's Guide to Child Security and Cyberbullying
As technology creates more ways to share information, photos and videos instantaneously, there has been a noticeable
rise in cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a new form of bullying that occurs when electronic devices or technology are
used for taunting, harassing or threatening behavior.
The anonymity of the Internet makes cyberbullying a common - and stressful - problem for younger computer
There are differences between traditional forms of bullying and cyberbullying, but for many, cyberbullying has
severe effects. Social media networks, emails, videos and photos can create an atmosphere where a victim is bullied
24/7, as opposed to a direct point-of-contact with a traditional bully. Studies show that those who experience
cyberbullying also experience face-to-face or contact bullying as well.
Cyberbullying has detrimental effects on victims and can result in depression, loss of interest in school and
noticeable personality changes. It is imperative that cyberbullying is recognized, quickly dealt with and corrected,
as children must have a secure environment in which to thrive. In some cases, cyberbullying that has not been dealt
with has led to children and teens committing suicide.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying involves the use of electronic devices and social media networking sites to share disparaging messages,
photos, lies or rumors about someone. Sometimes it involves hacking someone's account and then using it to wreak
havoc. A cyberbully may hack a victim's Facebook or email account, and then send inappropriate messages to a mass
group of students.
Cyberbullying differs from traditional bullying in several ways. One danger associated with cyberbullying is that
threats may be posted or shared anonymously. Additionally, online messages, photos and videos do not go away; once
shared, they can linger on indefinitely. This can make it extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible, to
determine the original source of the bullying. Someone may create a fake online identity, and then post videos,
photos or spread rumors about the victim, while keeping their identity hidden. It can take a lot of labor and police
intervention to track down an original IP address and locate the bully.
Cyberbullying Facts and Figures
The National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics found that from 2008-2009, 6% of
students from the sixth through twelfth grade experienced cyberbullying. The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey
found that in 2011, 16% of all high school students experienced cyberbullying. According to Do Something.org, 70% of
students have witnessed bullying online. Unfortunately, Do Something reports that only 1 in 10 victims will inform
an adult about the cyberbullying. Due to the prevalence of cyberbullying, it is recommended that children and teens
have a shared family computer rather than personal computers.
All electronic devices may be used for cyberbullying such as computers, cell phones and tablets. Anything that has
Internet access and can access social media networks, email and instant messaging programs may be used for
cyberbullying. Cyberbullies may send and share messages, photos and videos through a variety of ways. Sites such as
Twitter and Facebook are frequent cyberbullying mediums. Users often set up fake or anonymous accounts then begin
sharing rumors, photos or videos that attack the victim's character. Sometimes the anonymous person may friend or
follow the victim, other times they use the account to spread false content among the victim's friends or
Recognizing Cyberbullying (Victim and Bully)
Parents should regularly monitor their child or teen's online habits and look for signs of cyberbullying. Pay
attention for signs that indicate your child is a victim as well as victimizing others. Keep in mind that if your
child or teen is a cyberbullying victim, they might not tell you. Look for any sudden, drastic changes in social
media or texting use; a sudden increase or decrease could indicate cyberbullying activity. Watch how your child or
teen behaves after online usage; a child or teen who is cyberbullied may have a noticeable mood change after using
social networking sites. If your child or teen suddenly loses interest in their social media accounts and asks to
shut them down, they might be a cyberbullying victim.
Signs that your child or teen might be a cyberbully include children spending unusual amounts of time on social media
networks, and then shutting the screen down when a parent or adult walks by. Cyberbullies often take pleasure in
their online harassment and you might hear them laughing after sending messages. They may sneak on the computer at
all hours of the night and refuse to answer questions regarding their computer usage and activities. Cyberbullies
often create fictitious accounts to hide their identity. If your child or teen is a cyberbully, he or she may be
using multiple social networking accounts.
Coping Techniques for Cyberbullying Victims
It is crucial that children who are cyberbullied know how to respond and cope. It is important that victims not react
or respond to cyberbullying. For example, children may be tempted to get back or retaliate; this won't help the
situation and will only exasperate things. Document evidence of cyberbullying. From emails and text messages to
screenshots on Facebook or Twitter, all cyberbullying evidence must be documented and kept. Never hesitate to
contact authorities. Cyberbullying is serious, and though not all states have laws on the book regarding the
actions, rules and regulations are continually changing. There are cyberstalking, stalking and harassment laws that
often address a cyberbully's actions. Contact school officials, website administrators and local authorities if
Steps for Parents and Teachers
Parents and teachers may take a two-fold approach to cyberbullying. First there is prevention, second is response.
Helping children learn steps to prevent cyberbullying can help increase their safety awareness while online.
Children must know how to act responsibly and safely when using the Internet. They must keep their personal
information private and be wary when someone sends a friend request. Children and teens should only accept friend
requests from someone they know and trust.
If a child is a victim of cyberbullying, parents and teachers should focus on helping the child and document all
evidence. Parents run the danger of not taking cyberbullying seriously or overreacting to the problem. For instance,
some parents may feel that cyberbullying isn't as serious as it truly is. Other problems arise when parents
overreact and punish the child or teen for the bullying. Parents should notify the child's teachers and guidance
counselor and inform them about the cyberbullying. Teachers should be on the lookout for any in-school bullying as
well. Cyberbullying is a serious crime that has detrimental effects on victims. It must be dealt with in a swift
These resources provide helpful tools for parents, teachers, and IT policymakers. By understanding how
cyberbullies operate, you can prevent threats and protect young Internet users.