What is Cyberbullying? When someone intentionally intimidates, harasses, threatens, humiliates, harms, or otherwise targets a child using their computer, cell phone, or other interactive device, that is cyberbullying.
Hate Speech is illegal and includes saying mean things about a person’s religion, race, national origin, sexual orientation, physical or mental disabilities – perceived or otherwise.
SafetyNet® surveyed more than 10,000 teens across San Diego and asked them, “Would you tell your parents if someone were bullying you online?” A full 60% said “NO!” The reasons given for not reporting to parents were:
- I don’t want my computer or phone taken away.
- I don’t want my parents coming to the school and embarrassing me.
- I don’t want to get in trouble for downloading apps I am not allowed to use.
- I don’t want my parents to know what my friends are really like.
- I’m not a baby anymore, I can handle it myself.
Parents: you may recall growing up with the attitude that bullying just happens – bullies will grow out of the behavior and victims will get over it. Law enforcement, schools and families are now taking cyberbullying and bullying seriously, as they should. Every state in the U.S. now includes bullying as a disciplinary action, which includes online harassment and violence. The laws and policies vary slightly depending on your location, but the goal is always to protect the children who need it. Here are the laws for the state of California: Anti-cyberbullying laws in CA.
What should kids do if they’re cyberbullied?
DON’T RESPOND. Block the person from your cell phone, social networking sites and email. Save screen captures of the texts, photos and offending messages.
DON’T RETALIATE. Getting back at the bully turns the situation into a fight, and then both kids are assigned blame and consequences. Instead, don’t respond.
TALK TO A TRUSTED ADULT. It’s good to involve a parent but, if you can’t, reach out to a teacher, counselor, coach, friend, or relative who usually knows how to help. If you’re nervous about saying something, see if there’s a way to report the incident anonymously at school.
BE A FRIEND, NOT A BYSTANDER. Forwarding embarrassing photos or just standing by and doing nothing empowers bullies and hurts victims even more. Support your classmates by befriending them, offering a kind word, and reporting bullies to parents or teachers. This can usually be done anonymously if you fear retaliation.
Teach your kids to get adult help if something uncomfortable happens online. Remind them it is not “tattling” or “snitching” if someone may be in danger or is getting hurt. Click here to learn more: Stop Bullying.