When it comes to assessing exactly what kids face with cyberbullying, precision is difficult because cyberbullying is defined and measured differently by each study. However, if cyberbullying is defined as any harassment or willful harm inflicted though the use of connected technology (computers, cell phones, etc.), a recent review of the research found at least 15-35% of students have been victims, while 10-20% admit to engaging in cyberbullying 1.
The online world offers so many helpful opportunities for children, it is easy to forget that it also extends the dynamics found in the school hallway, cafeteria, soccer field, or homecoming game into your kitchen, living room, or wherever your child uses connected technology. The virtual world expands opportunities for bullying almost infinitely. Cyber abuse is a real and present danger for children and adults. But, if parents keep current, keep checking, and keep communicating, they can help children avoid being either a victim or a bully—parents can help children become responsible upstanders who prevent others from being abused online.
Cyberbullies perpetuate harassment using the entire spectrum of connected technology. This can include texting, email, blogs, websites, in addition to social networking sites, etc.
While the term "cyberbullying" refers to online harassment, it’s usually an indication and an extension of offline harassment as well. Studies show cyberbullying is most rigorous in the middle school ages, but it is still a significant problem for elementary and high schools 2. Make sure your child’s school has an age-appropriate policy in place for addressing and preventing cyber abuse and bullying. If your school does not have a policy, work with administration to find a curriculum. Get parents and students involved.
Set clear guidelines with your children regarding their online conduct towards others. Ask your children if they’ve ever had problems with cyberbullying in the past. If there is a current problem—help them take action either for themselves or on behalf of someone they know. If you need ideas for discussion, the Cyberbullying Research Center has excellent resources including parent-child dialogue scripts.
"Friend" your child on Facebook, MySpace, or other social networking platforms. Review text messages, emails, and chat histories. Discuss the topic with your child regularly.
1 Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2009). Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications (Corwin Press). ISBN: 1412966892
2 Cree, Renee (Jan 12, 2011). Study Finds Nearly Half of School Social Workers Feel Unequipped to Handle Cyberbullying. Temple University Communications. Retrieved from http://www.temple.edu/newsroom/2010_2011/01/stories/Cyberbullying.htm?utm_source=templetoday&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cyberbullying