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Protect Your Child From Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a new way to humiliate and torment others using computer technology. Typically, the bully hides behind the anonymity of the internet and spreads rumors, trashes reputations  and hurts young egos with little fear of being caught. Magnifying the impact of this intimidation is the incredible scope of the internet which can reach millions with the click of a mouse.

School officials are dealing with this problem, however parents remain on the front line protecting their children. Here are some strategies you can use to protect your children:

  • Learn about the new technologies. If you are unfamiliar with the internet, now is the time to start surfing the Web. Learn the many ways that children can bully electronically, through emails, blogs (web logs that are online diaries), and videos that are downloaded from camcorders or picture phones.
  • Talk about values. The technology may have changed, but kindness and decency should still be top  priorities for everyone.
  • Guard passwords. A bully can use another child's screen name to send out offensive emails.  Tell your children not to share passwords with friends and to change passwords frequently.
  • Talk to your children if you believe they are victims of bullies. Oftentimes a child being tormented by a cyberbully will be too embarrassed to tell a parent or teacher. Make sure your children know they are not to blame for being targeted and that they should report any incident to you or an adult at school.
  • Keep copies. Having documentation of the cyberbullying will strengthen your case if you need to report it to school or other authorities. Experts advise not to delete the original email, even after you have printed it out. There may be something in the original email header that would lead to the source.
  • Work with your children's schools. Even if cyberbullying happens outside of school, the repercussions spill over into the classroom.
  • Stress the Internet's impact. An email sent to one child can be forwarded to hundreds.  Old emails may resurface and get even a well-meaning child in trouble. Encourage your children to think before clicking.

INSIGHTS FOR FAMILIES is provided by you child's school in recognition of your role as a partner in education. Adapted by Judy McDaniel, communications consultant, from information provided by the National PTA.

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