Cyberbullying occurs when an individual or group harasses or torments another individual through various types of consumer technology. This technology can include email, various social networking sites, cell phones and other devices. Several teen suicides in recent years have been influenced or caused by various cyberbullying incidents.
Cyberbullying can be insidious. Cyberbullying can occur via direct communication between two individuals, or the harassment can be more indirect and include many more people who pass along information over a period of time. Given the ease with which information can be distributed using today's technology, individuals can get involved in cyberbullying and in some cases harass others without even realizing they are involved. Actual content can vary greatly, but bullying is typically pervasive and can be devastating to young people.
Parents can help protect. There are many ways parents can protect their children online. It's important for parents to be aware of their children’s activities online and with cell phones. This may pose a challenge for parents who wish to give their children some level of privacy and independence, but could help head off any bullying behavior either given or received. In addition, some kids do not share much information with their parents, even if they are being harassed, so parents need to be sure to regularly check in with their children's online world.
In addition to monitoring online activities, parents should make sure children limit posting personal information online. Parents also should teach children to avoid online dialogues with questionable or unknown people.
Kids can help prevent. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, students can actually be the best individuals to prevent cyberbullying. Parents may not be able to prevent their children from interacting with certain individuals or groups, but they can encourage kids to avoid participating in cyberbullying. In addition, the NCPC suggests that students can band together so that cyberbullies are not able to form alliances.
Get involved. When parents suspect or confirm that cyberbullying is happening with their children, they should take steps to get school officials involved if it involves other students. Some harassment is part of growing up, but students and parents do not have to put up with cyberbullying, particularly over a period of time. If school officials are not able to solve the problem, parents may need to contact law enforcement or pursue legal action.