Help your child overcome cyberbullying

Help your child overcome cyberbullying

Long gone are the days when bullying only happened on the school bus or in the lunchroom. Now, in addition to the bullying that happens at school, bullying through cyberspace can happen at any time and in any place a child has access to computers or other gadgets.

"In terms of physical bullying, those numbers have come down about 5 percent in the last 5 years,” Austin psychologist Jane Ford Mustin told KVUE. “But instead, cyber bullying has gone sky high."

In fact, nearly 43 percent of kids nationwide have experienced online bullying, according to A staggering statistic when considering the lasting impact that bullying can have on children and adults. For more information on this, see the Long-term Effects of Bullying infographic.

Over the past few years, the community of parents, school administrators, activists and psychiatrists in Austin has taken notice by implementing an official cyberbullying school policy, along with putting on events throughout the city creating a dialogue around the issue.

In addition to these efforts, what else can parents in Austin do to help a child who is a victim of cyberbullying?

1. Know where it happens: Most commonly, cyberbullying happens over a mobile phone, but it also occurs through social networks like Facebook and Twitter, as well as through email. Monitor and limit your child’s usage of his or her gadgets, and regularly talk to your child about cyberbullying to keep lines of communication open.

2. Look for the signs: These signs of bullying include “not wanting to go to school in the morning, complaining of stomach aches, coming home from school upset, missing belongings," said Denver psychiatrist Jennifer Hagman to 9News.

3. Be supportive of your child: It can be a difficult time when children experience cyberbullying. Be very supportive of your child if he or she encounters it, and be sure to make it clear that he or she will not be blamed for being a victim. Children often won’t tell parents about cyberbullying for fear of blame and loss of gadget privileges, according to the National Crime Prevention Council.

4. Record and report: Be upfront with your child’s school if he or she is experiencing cyberbullying. Keep printouts of any and all instances of cyberbullying, and report threats to law enforcement immediately.

Your efforts to fight cyberbullying at home will add to the contributions of the rest of the community, making Austin a safer place for our kids.

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