Online social networking sites, blogs and smart phones enable bullies to extend their impact on victims, allowing for around-the-clock harassment that can be public or indelible, making action all the more difficult for parents and school officials.
Research shows that 42 percent of children have been bullied online, and of this group of victims, one in four has experienced this kind of bullying more than once. It is important for children, parents, teachers and community leaders to discuss what can be done to stop this growing epidemic. Below are a few guidelines and suggestions to help parents not only protect their children from being bullied, but also recognize if your child may be the bully.
Tips for Parents
• Monitor your child’s use of technology. It’s important for all parents to be aware of how children are using today’s technology, whether children text or use the Web. Monitor their reactions and emotions when they are online. SIGN UP for the same platforms that your children use, and stay up to date with their online profiles. Look for signs of bullying, depression or other concerning issues. As a parent, your presence is powerful, and you may be able to prevent bullies from harming your child.
• Report bullying behaviors to appropriate officials. Resist confronting the bully or the bully’s parents. Instead, report any unlawful or harassing behaviors to law enforcement. If incidents happen at school, report them to school officials. If your child receives cruel texts, don’t respond. Instead, make copies of them. This evidence may be useful to report to school officials or law enforcement. Set up online filters to block the bully’s messages on social media.
• Educate kids about bullying at an early age. Teach them what bullying means, what to expect as they get older, and ask them to promise to talk to you if someone ever makes them feel bad about themselves. Additionally, talk to your kids about social pressures that could prompt them to bully others, and teach them why bullying is wrong. Look for signs of anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts. Caring conversations with your children can impact their emotional health.
•Ask for help. If the torment of bullies becomes too much, contact a mental health professional for help. Reporting the first signs of bullying can decrease its long-term effects.
Even if your child isn’t being bullied, it is still important to talk about the topic with your child from an early age. By having these conversations early in life, you may be able to prevent the negative emotional impact bullying could have on your children in the future.
If your child needs professional help to heal from the emotional scars of bullying, contact a mental health professional. Centerstone’s experts are available 24 hours a day, connecting families to the services they need. If you or a loved one needs immediate assistance, please contact us at 800-832-5442.