Most of us are familiar with the term bullying. We know what it is and why it is wrong. No one wants their kids to be bullied and well, frankly, no good parent wants their child to be a bully. However, since the advent of the digital age, bullying has also extended its claws to the cyber world. When adults torment, harass, humiliate, or threaten each other using support from the internet, it is known as cyber-harassment or cyber-stalking. But when a child, be it a preteen or a teen, gets involved, that is, both the parties are children, it is called cyber-bullying.
Cyber-bullying is usually not a one-time communication. Kids keep on changing their roles, going from the victim to the bully and back again. The person who is a cyberbully for one moment may become the victim the next moment. Many children don’t even realize that they are being a bully or being bullied online. As responsible adults, it is our duty to educate and warn them.
Signs of cyber-bullying
Access to a phone, computer, or any other communication device puts the kids in the way of cyber-bullying. Here are some of the common signs to look out for if you think a child is being cyber-bullied.
- Secrecy: Generally, a child beings active secretive or protective of a communication device in case of bullying. Check if your kid gets nervous about receiving a text or an email or is not interested in sharing his experience of the day with you.
- Mood swings: Often a child shows sudden changes in mood or behavior. His sleep and appetite patterns are disturbed and he gets agitated easily.
- Slipping grades: All the pent-up tension causes a child to lose his focus in his studies and his grades start slipping. He faces difficulty in understanding even the easiest of the topics.
- Talk: The first thing to do is make your ward comfortable around you and ask him questions to learn what is happening, how it started, and who is involved. Be a part of his virtual and real life.
- Document: Keep a record of what is happening and where it is happening. Take screenshots of harmful posts, it will help to document the bullying and may even serve as proof later on.
- Report: Many institutions have a strict policy on bullying and will take strict action on reporting the culprit to them. Social media platforms also have policies on cyber-bullying and reporting the offensive content to them may get it removed even.
- Support: At a sensitive time like this, the child needs the emotional support of his friends and family. Try to reach both, the bully and the target and express your concern. Sometimes a public intervention by a trusted adult can be helpful, shifting the focus from the negative or hurtful posts to the more positive aspects of the target. If the case worsens, try to seek professional help from a guidance counselor or mental health professional.
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