What do I do if my kid is getting bullied online?

Question and Answer series with Michelle McCullough

October is National Bullying Awareness Month and with a cell phone in the hands of almost every teen, the subject of cyber bullying deserves attention and discussion.

Today I’m going to share three tips to help your kids if they are being bullied and two tips to help your kid if THEY are the bully.

This post features some frequently asked questions on cyber bullying.

Question #1:
It seems like cyber bulling cases are becoming more and more frequent. What would you say is the first step if they’re being bullied online?

Michelle: Take it offline. Don’t continue to engage in the conversation virtually. Stop the digital dialogue because you won’t be able to change their minds. Decide if you need to address it with the person or parents over the phone or in person and involve any other parties that may need to be notified. Use the three D’s to work through serious situations: Document, discuss and delete.

Question #2:
Once things are said, even if it’s deleted, it can stay with someone for a long time. Maybe even forever. How do you start to process and resolve the situation?

Michelle: It can be tempting to back go the scene and see what else has been said and get back into the conversation, that’s why it’s important to make a change. Perhaps limit social media use, if it happened on Instagram, give it break for awhile, let the “news cycle” change if you will. Fill the time with something else completely. Go to a movie, read a book but change things up.

Question #3:
What do you recommend if it continues to happen or if your child isn’t “bouncing back”?

Michelle: Don’t be afraid to get additional support. Your child may need counseling or support at school with teachers and administration. Don’t wait. The longer things go unresolved the worse they can be long term. That’s why the acting is SO important. Resolve the issue with the kid or parents, but make sure your child gets professional help if needed.

Question #4:
Now let’s turn the tables, what if you find out your kid is the bully?

Michelle: This is where we use the three Cs. Collect, Clean and Checkup.
Before you dive into the convo with your kid, make sure your facts are straight. Collect information to make sure you have a good picture of what happened.
Talk to your kid and clean it up. If they need to delete something, make sure it gets done, if they need to make amends, make sure they do it verbally or in person – not just online. Help them understand that seeing someone and having to say it to their face makes the difference.
Finally, checkup. After the events check in with your kid, with the platform used and continue to keep the conversation going.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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