We want parents to know that, if their child is being cyberbullied, there are steps they can take to help their teen take control of the situation.
Some signs parents can look out for with their teenager include:
- They are upset after using their phone or computer.
- They’re being secretive about their online activity.
- They’ve become more withdrawn, sad, angry or hostile.
- Their friendship groups have changed.
- Their schoolwork has declined, and they may even be refusing to go to school.
- They’re generally disinterested in things.
- Their sleeping patterns have changed.
If you know your child is being cyberbullied, the first thing to do is to be supportive and empathetic. Make sure that they know it’s not their fault. Cyberbullying is serious and upsetting, so try not to minimise or trivialise the situation in order to make your child ‘feel better’. Avoid the temptation to stop your child going online at all; this will more likely result in them not telling you if it occurs again.
Support your child with cyberbullying emotionally
- Speak to your child and really listen to what they have to say. Thank them for opening up to you, and let them know that you want to put an end to the bullying.
- Never blame your child for experiencing cyberbullying. The way young people interact online may seem excessive to adults, but bullying is never the fault of the person being bullied.
- Acknowledge their feelings and don’t try to dismiss their experiences, even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you.
- Reassure them that there are people who can offer support, whether this is you, their teachers or other professionals and services.
What to do if your child feels unsafe?
If your child feels unsafe, for example if someone is threatening them or your family, call the police on 192 to get help.
If your child is distressed about the bullying, encourage them to speak to a mental health professional, or direct them to services that can help. This may be a school counselor.