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What can parents do?

Talk to your children. Educate them and make them be aware that it is not their fault, let them know of experiences from your own childhood to make sure they do not feel alone, and that bullying says more about the bully than it does about the victim.

Educate your children about the dangers of the internet and instill rules that limit their access to technology and the sites that may create issues. Encourage your children to save any instances or proof of cyberbullying or any messages that someone sends them online that make them feel uneasy or distressed.

  • First Offense (if minor in nature) – ignore, delete, or block the sender. Instant messaging programs, email, and cell phones usually have blocking features.
  • If a fake or offensive profile targeting your child is set up on a social networking site, report it to the site. The link for reporting cyber bullying and fake profiles can be found under the help sections of many websites. Facebook has a help center on its site that provides a link for reporting offensive profiles.

Make sure to copy the link (the website address) to the site for reporting purposes.

  • Investigate your child’s online presence. Set up an alert on Google, or search your child’s name occasionally through a variety of search engines.
  • If the perpetrator is another student, share evidence with the school counselor.

Check to see if any bullying may be occurring at school.

What are the warning Signs of Cyber Bullying?

  • Child is visibly upset or angry during or after internet use or cell phone use.
  • Withdrawal from friends or activities.
  • Drop in academic performance.
  • School avoidance.
  • Child is a target of traditional bullying at school.
  • Child appears depressed or sad.

What are the warning signs that my child may be a bully?

  • Positive views towards violence
  • Aggressive towards teachers or parents
  • Needs to control others and situations
  • Physically stronger than most of his/her peers
  • Impulsive, easily frustrated
  • Often breaks rules
  • Shows little sympathy towards those who are bullied

What are the risk factors of bullying?

These people are at a higher risk of being bullied:

  • People who are perceived as being different. This can be based on race, religion, the type of clothes they wear, being overweight or underweight, wearing glasses, etc.
  • People who are perceived as “weak” and appear to be unable to defend themselves.
  • People who are depressed, anxious, or have low self-esteem.
  • People who have less friends than other people.
  • People who do not get along well with others and are seen as annoying or provoking.

What does your child want you to do?

Your child wants you to guide them. Students who participated in a study conducted by Kowalski, Limber, & Agatston (2007) indicated that they want their parents to set age appropriate rules; they want to be taught how to deal with conflict; they want their internet usage monitored but not overwhelmingly.

How do you approach the parents of the children who are bullying?

It is best not to provoke a situation any further and it is advised that the victim’s parents and bully’s parents be available to meet in a controlled setting such as in a school counselor’s office to discuss the bullying. In any instance of school-yard bullying it is not recommended to privately consult with the bully’s parents. If you know your child is being cyberbullied, confronting the parents of the bully can be constructive but minimization and denial can occur even if printouts of the cyberbullying incidents are presented.

How do boys and girls differ in terms of how they bully? How are they the same?

While it is important not to overgeneralize how males and females will behave based on their gender, there are some common differences that can help you understand the situation better if your child is the bully or is a victim of bullying.

Ways that boys and girls bully differently:

  • Boys are more likely to bully by using physical force or intimidation, whereas girls are more likely to bully verbally. Girls are more likely to leave someone out of a social circle and spread rumors than males.
  • Boys often bully both males and females, whereas girls are most often seen bullying other girls.
  • Boys usually bully more openly than girls and therefore are caught bullying more often. This has been mistaken to mean that boys bully more often than girls, but recent studies have shown that this is not the case. Girls bully in more discrete ways than boys and act out more passive-aggressively, thus adults have a more difficult time detecting a female bully.
  • Girls who are cyberbullied are more likely to tell an adult about the incidents than boys are.
  • Girls are more likely than boys to report positive opinions of how their teachers handle bullying.

Ways that boys and girls are the same when it comes to bullying:

  • Both genders can bully individuals based on race, gender, or sexual orientation.
  • Bullying by boys and girls is equally harmful to the victims of the bullying.
  • Both male and female bullies often turn on their friends.
  • Later primary and middle school years are the crucial years to be aware of bullying, as individuals are at higher risks of being bullied as a young teen and pre-teen.