Parent’s Guide to Cyberbullying

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Protect Your Children from a New Form of Aggression

New technology has many social and educational benefits for children. For example, the growth of internet and cellular technology allows young people to have access to greater amounts of information, to stay connected with family and friends, and to connect and learn from people worldwide. Yet, parents and caregivers need to be aware of the potential dangers that young people face through these technologies—in particular, the growing threat of electronic aggression known as “cyberbullying”.

Cyberbullying, also known as internet bullying, internet harassment, and electronic aggression, is defined as any kind of aggression perpetrated through technology. More<br />
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specifically, cyberbullying is any type of harassment (teasing, telling lies, making fun of someone, making rude or mean comments, spreading rumors, or making threatening or aggressive comments) that occurs through email, a chat room, instant messaging , a website (including blogs), or text messaging. Electronic technology allows adolescents to hide their identity, either by sending or posting messages anonymously, by using a false name, or by assuming someone else’s on‐screen identity. So, unlike the aggression or bullying that occurs in the schoolyard, victims and perpetrators of electronic aggression may not know the person with whom they are interacting.

Who Is Most at Risk?

According to the CDC, 9% to 35% of young people say they have been the victim of some form of cyberbullying. There is some evidence that cyberbullying is less common in 5th grade than in 8th grade, but is higher in 8th grade than 11th grade, suggesting that this form of electronic aggression may peak around the end of middle school/beginning of high school. According to studies, 67% of victims said the aggression they experienced or perpetrated was through instant messaging. Victims also reported experiencing cyberbullying through email (25%) and text messages (16%).

Steps for Parents & Caregivers

The CDC advises a combination of solutions including: blocking software; educational classes to teach students and parents about appropriate electronic behavior; and regular and open communication between adults and young people about their experiences with technology.

1. Talk to Your Child.

One CDC expert insightfully described the challenge facing adults who are trying to communicate with young people about technology: “The problem is that adults view the internet as a mechanism to find information. Young people view the Internet as a place. Caregivers are encouraged to ask their children where they are going and who they are going with whenever they leave the house. They should take the same approach when their child goes on the Internet —where are they going and who are they with?” Young people are sometimes reluctant to disclose victimization for fear of having their internet and cellular phone privileges revoked. The CDC recommends that parents talk with their children to come up with a solution to prevent or address victimization that does not punish the child for his or her victimization.

2. Develop Rules.

Together with your child, develop rules about acceptable and safe behavior for all electronic media. Make plans for what your child should do if they become a victim of cyberbullying or they witness or know about someone else being victimized. The rules should focus on ways to maximize the benefits of technology and decrease its risks.

3. Explore the Internet. 

Once you have talked to your child and discovered which websites he/she frequents, visit them yourself.

This will help you understand where your child has “been” when he/she visits the website and will help you understand the pros and cons of the various websites. Remember that most websites and on‐line activities are beneficial. They help young people learn new information, interact with and learn about people from diverse backgrounds, and express themselves to others who may have similar thoughts and experiences. Technology is not going away, so forbidding young people to access electronic media may not be a good long‐term solution.

4. Talk with Other Parents and Caregivers. 

Talk to others about how they have discussed technology use with their children. Ask about the rules they have developed, and how they stay informed about their child’s technology use. 

5. Connect with the School. 

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to work with their child’s school and school district to develop a class for parents and caregivers that educates them about school policies regarding cyberbullying, recent incidents in the community involving electronic aggression , and resources available to parents and caregivers who have concerns.

6. Keep Current. 

Technology changes rapidly, and so it is important to keep current on what new devices and websites your child is using, and in what ways. Many developers offer information to keep people aware of advances. As existing internet websites change, and new websites launch all the time, it is important to continually talk with your child about “where they are going” and explore these websites yourself. Technology is not going away, and forbidding young people to access electronic media may not be a good long term solution according to the CDC. The CDC recommends that parents and children work together to come up with ways to maximize the benefits of technology and decrease its risks. 

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Source: The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention 

 

These are just a few things you can do to protect your family from cyberbullying. Please visit Montlick.com or HelpKeepKidsSafe.org and click on “Family Safety and Legal Tips,” to see our latest safety videos and downloadable materials, and to register for Free Safety Alerts. 

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This Parent's Guide to Cyber Bullying is presented by Georgia Injury Attorneys Montlick & Associates.

As part of our ongoing commitment to help keep kids safe, Montlick & Associates has created this Parent's Guide to Cyber Bullying. We understand that electronic media, such as the internet and cell phones, has many social and educational benefits for our children. However, youth can use this new technology to embarrass, harass or threaten their peers. The affects can be psychologically devastating to a child and sometimes lead to depression and personal injury. Parents, please use the important tips provided by Georgia Injury Attorneys Montlick & Associates to protect your child from the growing threat of electronic aggression.