9 Ways To Prevent Cyberbullying
contributed by Paula Green, and updated by TeachThought Staff
Preventing cyberbullying is a matter of awareness and response: knowing what children are doing and how they are vulnerable, then helping them learn to respond when their well-being is threatened by bullies, trolls, and other dangerous users online.
If a child is expressing anger or anxiety after going online, it might be one of the signs he/she is being cyberbullied.
Cyberbullying is becoming a burning issue both for parents and teachers. While statistics vary from study to study, it’s generally true that children are spending more time than ever ‘online.’ In fact, some students may spend more time online than offline, which means they might be more likely to be bullied through words on a screen than in a school hallway or bathroom.
The effect of cyberbullying are similar to traditional bullying but traditional bullying stops when the school ends; for online bullying there is almost no escape. Unfortunately, many kids torment and harass each other using the internet apps and social media channels.
7 Surprising Cyberbullying Statistics
-> 45% of children admit they have experienced bullying online
-> More than 40% say they have become a bully’s exclusive target
-> 70% admit they have witnessed cyberbullying
-> 50% of children admit to being scared of their online bullies
-> 92% of cyberbullying attacks are held through chatting and commenting on social media websites
-> Cyberbullying victims are 3 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide
-> Only 2 in 10 victims will inform their parents or teachers of online attacks
It’s impossible to prevent cyberbullying altogether, just as it’s impossible to completely prevent in-person bullying. But there are some strategies you can use to reduce the likelihood that it occurs and offers them ways to respond when it does.
9 Ways To Prevent Cyberbullying
1. Establish a climate of communication with your child
Every psychologist will tell you that one of the best ways to help your child or student is by establishing a ‘climate’ of trust and communication.
It’s not enough to be ‘willing’ to talk with a child or ‘hope’ that they’ll come to you if they experience bullying (of any kind). Ideally, there will be communication patterns established where they aren’t just likely to discuss this with you, but see you as a resource and support system.
2. Define it
Give them a formal definition of cyberbullying. Give them examples–examples they might actually experience using the online activities they’re most likely to use.
There are many forms of cyberbullying, from light-hearted by hurtful comments on facebook to passive-aggressive posts on Instagram to trolling on YouTube to cyberstalking everywhere else.
At the very least, be patient and ask a child about the problem in general: what is cyberbullying, does he/she know someone who is being bullied, what children should do if notice acts of bullying. This way you will see how much your child is involved in the situation and which side he/she is on.
3. Give them strategies to respond
And because the bullying is often done in front of friends and peers, make sure the ‘strategy to prevent cyberbullying’ has credibility with their peers–that is, that allows them to ‘save face’ and redirect the attention back to the bully. Ironically, the wrong response could encourage more bullying in the future.
4. Use celebrity card
Modern children aren’t so different than we were: they choose role models and are influenced by them.
Today, those role models are YouTubers and video game streamers and athletes as often as they are athletes, actors, musicians, and other ‘stars.’ And thankfully, many of these ‘role models’ discuss bullying, advocate for victims, and encourage each of us to create new social norms where bullying isn’t just tolerated but is shamed as a behavior.
5. Monitor online activity
Luckily, cyberbullying has one advantage or ‘traditional’ bullying: you can notice it and save the evidence.
If moving offline completely isn’t an option, you can install iPhone and Android phone monitoring apps. These can allow monitoring social media activity (including YouTube, Tik Tok, facebook, snapchat, and Instagram), the viewing of all text messages (even deleted ones), call logs, and general online behavior. You can even block and control the child’s phone remotely.
In short, know what they’re doing it online–when they’re doing it and with whom.
6. Know the apps and platforms
Piggybacking on the above, it’s difficult to prevent cyberbullying if you don’t understand how the apps work and the most likely ways trolls and others can affect your student or child’s well-being. It would be difficult to help students navigate bullying in a physical school if you’d never seen or experienced yourself and the same is true online.
7. Engage parents and youth
Create a community for adults and pupils to send a unified message against cyberbullying. Establish a school safety committee that will control and discuss the problems of online bullying. Just as there are now laws in some states against cyberbullying, teachers and administrators can create policies and rules, including a cyberbullying reporting system.
8. Emphasize positivity
School staff can do a big deal to prevent cyberbullying. As a teacher, you can use staff and parent meetings and even send newsletters. Use your school website to create a page and forum, where parents can discuss the problem. You can also engage bullies and victims by giving them mutual tasks, so they can try to see each other from a different perspective.
9. Remember the big idea
Remember that the ultimate goal is to protect and restore the victim’s self-respect and empower them with a mindset, tools, and strategies to protect themselves online and offline in the future.
Mrs. Green takes a big part in NY anti-bullying campaign for young leaders. Right now she works as an independent contributor for Pumpic.com