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What If My Teenager Is Being Bullied?

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Despite our collective efforts to teach teens about cybersafety, they can still be victimized by youth who cyberbully. Moreover, cyberbullying can be an extension of bullying that teens are experiencing in school, and it may be more emotionally destructive. Threats and taunts posted on websites are visible throughout the world, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Youth who cyberbully often create websites that encourage friends and classmates to make disparaging comments about another youth. Thus, teens who are cyberbullied can face constant victimization and do not have a safe retreat. Because of this, cyberbullying can elicit a strong emotional response from teens. Some teens change their daily online and offline behaviors. Over 50 percent of teens felt angry after they were cyberbullied. Roughly one-third of teens felt hurt, and almost 15 percent of teens felt scared by cyberbullying experiences. Parents can help teens who are cyberbullied by teaching them methods that can prevent bullying.

  • Teach teens not to respond to cyberbullies. Show them how to block the bully’s messages or to delete messages without reading them. (Blocking and deleting messages/ contacts may be executed differently through websites, instant messengers, or email providers. For help, contact the site/software administrators.)
  • Tell teens that they should never try to seek revenge on a bully or cyberbully.
  • Let teens know that they can report bullying incidents to Internet service providers (ISPs) and website moderators. These groups may be able to control some of the bully’s Internet capabilities. More than half of the teens surveyed thought that moderators of online groups should be used to prevent cyberbullying incidents.

Teens currently use their own methods to counter cyberbullying, and many teens respond with a variety of reactions:

  • Thirty-six percent asked the bully to stop.
  • Thirty-four percent blocked communication.
  • Thirty-four percent talked to friends about the bullying.
  • Twenty-nine percent did nothing about the bullying.
  • Twenty-eight percent signed offline.

Parents can help teens who are cyberbullied by teaching them methods that can prevent bullying.

  • Teach teens not to respond to cyberbullies. Show them how to block the bully’s messages or to delete messages without reading them. (Blocking and deleting messages/contacts may be executed differently through websites, instant messengers, or email providers. For help, contact the site/software administrators.)
  • Tell teens that they should never try to seek revenge on a bully or cyberbully.
  • Let teens know that they can report bullying incidents to Internet service providers (ISPs) and website moderators. These groups may be able to control some of the bully’s Internet capabilities. More than half of the teens surveyed thought that moderators of online groups should be used to prevent cyberbullying incidents.
  • Remind your teens to keep their passwords a secret from everyone except you.
  • Tell your teens that it’s not their fault if they become victims of cyberbullying, but it is important for them to tell you if they are victimized. Assure them that you will not revoke their Internet privileges if they are cyberbullied. Some teens don’t disclose cyberbullying incidents to parents because they fear that their Internet privileges will be taken from them. Speak openly with your teens about cyberbullying.
  • Help teen victims keep a record of bullying incidents. This will be helpful if the actions escalate and law enforcement needs to intervene. If the cyberbullying involves threats and harassment or frequent cyberattacks, call the police to ensure your teen’s safety. Remember that cyberbullying incidents sometimes end violently. If you are unable to prevent cyberbullying, it is important to stop it as soon as possible.
The above is an excerpt adapted from the article, “Stop Cyberbullying Before It Starts.” For more information, please visit www.ncpc.org.