Cyber bullying can happen any time of the day.
Teenagers use cell phones and computers to harass others by sending malicious text messages, uploading embarrassing photos or videos on websites, or taking over someone’s social media profile or creating a new one.
Although it takes place in cyberspace, there are several things you can do at home to protect your children from being harassed online. The following tips will help you get started.
Prevent Cyber Bullying
You can prevent cyber bullying by knowing what your kids are doing online and establishing certain rules on the use of cellphones and computers. This will help minimize the chances that your teenager will harass someone online or be a victim of cyber bullying.
Stopbullying.gov has several tips to help you protect your kids:
- Install a parental control software on your kids’ devices to keep an eye on the texts they send or receive. Tell them that as a parent, it’s your responsibility to check their interactions when you consider it appropriate.
- Teach your kids to abstain from sharing photos or videos that might cause them problems if other people see them, especially people who are not their friends
- “Follow” your kids on social media or ask another adult to do it on your behalf so you can stay up-to-date on what they are doing or saying
- Tell them it’s important that they tell you if they are the victims of cyber bullying so that you can help them
Respond to Cyber Bullying
You can start to put an end to cyber bullying by doing the following:
- Don’t answer cyber bullying messages and ask your kids to share with you all of the messages they’ve received
- Block the bully on social media and eliminate or block the bully’s e-mail address
- Keep all evidence of cyber bullying, including text messages and harassing e-mails
Report Cyber Bullying
States have laws and policies against bullying, so be sure to contact your school if your child is being harassed online. Schools can take several measures to respond to specific cases.
Parents can also report bullies to the social media sites as bullies often violate the company’s policies and terms and conditions. Parents can also contact the police. Cyber bullying is a crime when messages contain:
- Threats of violence
- Child pornography or photos with sexually explicit messages
- Images taken from places where the person expected privacy, like a bathroom
Cyber bullying is also a crime when someone is stalking a victim or engaging in activities considered to be a hate crime.
Video Challenge on Cyber Bullying
Teens between the ages of 13 and 18 are invited to participate in a 60-second video challenge on what young people can do to prevent bullying at school. Prices range from $500-$2,000 and winners will have their video published on Stopbullying.gov. The last day to submit videos is October 14, 2012.
Image: Wen Tong Neo, via Flickr (CC)