Dealing With Cyber-Bullying
There have always been bullies, but the Internet has opened a whole new realm – cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullies are children who verbally harass other children online. While this is not officially considered an online crime, it can be detrimental to your child’s self esteem. Cyber-bullying can include cursing your child, spreading rumors about them and posing as your child in chat rooms. Sometimes a child may know exactly who their harasser is, but some cyber-bullies hide behind aliases while threatening online children. This might not seem as large a concern as adults who send pornography online to children, but People magazine recently published an article on several children who had been cyber-bullied and ended up taking their own lives because of it.
Parents need to talk openly to their children about online protection against cyber-bullies. First and foremost, encourage your children to talk with you about any problems they may have with online harassment. Encourage them to confide in you or another trusted adult, such as a teacher, if they are being cyber-bullied. The Internet often gives users the illusion of anonymity and therefore, many think they write and say whatever they want without much thought. Teach your child how to block the email addresses in an attempt to stop abusive emails. Because it is easy to get additional email addresses, you may need to block additional addresses obtained by the cyber-bully. Instruct your children to save any messages that are mean or intimidating.
Remind your child that cyber-bullying is just like regular bullying. They are doing it to get a reaction out of them. If you can convince your child to ignore the bully’s emails and comments, chances are the bully will get bored and give up. Point out to your child that real online friends won’t believe lies the cyber-bully may be spreading.
Finally, if the person bullying your child online goes to his or her school, for your child’s safety, you may need to seek the advice of a teacher or principal. Online activity like this can lead to a diminished self esteem, cause learning problems and prolonged exposure to abuse and demeaning treatment.