What to do about Cyber Bullies?

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -  If you have a child in high school or college, they have probably been bullied and have not told you about it.  72% of teens reported being bullied and 90% of them said they did not tell an adult .

Former White House cyber expert Theresa Payton offers tips for what you can do to E.N.D. the cyberbullying.

This is serious, first of all, if your kids do it, the state of NC has a bill that specifically makes cyberbullying a criminal offense.

Cyberbullying is real and has consequences.  Just as you teach your kids self defense against teasing or fighting, you can adopt 3 steps to END bullying.

How to E.N.D. Bullying

  1. E:  Educate & encourage your kids to come to you if they are being bullied online
  2. N:  Network with other parents and discuss cyberbullying and alerting each other if you see it occurring
  3. D:  Do block the cyberbully online and on your kids' phone and report them

North Carolina passed a law last year, House Bill 1261, which makes Cyberbullying a criminal offense punishable as a misdemeanor.

The House Bill is posted at:  http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H1261v4.pdf

Test Your Cyberbullying Awareness:

1.  If my kid is a bully, cyber or physical, it is not an indicator that he or she will have problems later in life.

Answer:  False.  According to research cited by ILookBothWays.com, nearly 60% of boys who researchers classified as bullies, in middle school and their early high school years, were convicted of at least one crime by the age of 24.

2.  Most victims of cyberbullying tell an adult (parent or teacher) about their experience.

Answer:  False.  In a recent study high schoolers and college kids did not tell an adult.  Several said it was because they did not want to lose online privileges!

3.  Cyberbullying is mostly happening by boys to other boys.

Answer:  False.  Both boys and girls are being bullied online.

4.  Which of the following can be considered "cyberbullying"?

A. Harassing text messages

B. Posting mean web messages

C. Sending or posting embarrassing pictures of someone else without their permission

D. Threatening someone on MySpace, Facebook, or another site

E. All of the above

Answer:  E.  All of the above

5.  You should not call Law Enforcement if someone threatens your kid's safety online.

Answer:  False.  You should call the police if someone threatens your kid's safety, asks for a face to face meeting, or asks your kid to do something that breaks the law

"No Bully Zone"

Ask your kids to refrain from bullying others and ask them to tell you if someone bullies them.

Have a family discussion asking your child to alert you if someone is mean to them online.  Promise them you will not overreact and that you will decide together how to handle it.

Suggestions for Blocking Bullies:

Social Sites:

If the bullying is occurring on MySpace or Facebook, contact those service providers.  They have handled complaints of bullying before and may be able to remove the offensive remarks.

MySpace:  http://faq.myspace.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/42

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/help/?topic=reportabuse

Cell Phone:

If the bullying is occurring via text messages, talk to your cell phone provider about blocking the bully's address.

Email:

If the bullying happens via email, most email services will allow you to block a specific email address.

Signs that Your Child May Be a Victim of Bullying:

  • Your child becomes withdrawn.
  • Obsession with being online or offline that does not match usual patterns.
  • Compulsive secrecy about their phone and email messages.

Suggestions for Your Kids' School:

Inquire at your kids' high school and college if they have a zero tolerance bullying policy; ask them to include cyberbullying.

  • Ask & Encourage the schools to teach the concept in the classroom about how to spot and report cyberbullying.

Other Resources:

Say No to Bullying:

http://www.facebook.com/saynotobullying

  1. Stop Bullying Now:  http://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/kids/
  2. Online Safety Tips:  http://ilookbothways.com/
  3. Cybersafe Family:  http://cybersafefamily.com
  4. The Online Mom:  http://www.theonlinemom.com/secondary.asp?id=76
  5. Yoursphere:  http://internet-safety.yoursphere.com/
  6. A Way Through:  http://awaythrough.com/
  7. Sue Scheff:  http://suescheff.com
  8. National Crime Prevention Center:  www.ncpc.org
  9. Statistics on Cyberbullying:  http://www.cyberbullying.us/research.php
  10. Information about what to do if your kid is a victim:
    1. www.Cyberbullying.us 
    2. www.stopcyberbullying.org
    3. www.wiredsafety.com
    4. www.stopbullyingnow.com