My Child Has Been Bullying Someone Online – What Now?

Last updated on September 24th, 2012 at 01:27 am

Learning that your child has been cyberbullying another child can be overwhelming. Emotions like shock, denial, embarrassment are normal, but they need to be set aside as your focus should be on doing everything in your power to rectify the situation and help your child learn from their mistake.

There are three important factors to consider when doing this. First, action needs to be taken on your child’s part to set things right. Second, there needs to be a discussion between you and your child about the consequences of cyberbullying—they are very real and potentially very serious. And third, there are some steps you can take at home to help prevent this from happening again.

Helping your child apologize:

  1. A face-to-face apology to the victim and his/her parents is much more meaningful than a phone call or email. I recommend accompanying your child when they do this.
  2. If other children were involved in the same cyberbullying incident, then you and your child should alert the other parents so they can respond appropriately.
  3. Your child should delete the offensive material that was shared online and replace it with an apologetic comment.

Discussing the consequences of cyberbullying:

  1. While cyberbullying laws vary by state and school district, a cyberbullying offense has the potential to result in academic expulsion. If the case is severe, misdemeanor or felony charges could apply, potentially ruining your child’s chances of getting into college or landing a job in the future.
  2. If your child is a minor, you may find yourself sued for libel due to your child’s online actions.
  3. In the end, knowing the consequences can help your child learn valuable life lessons.

Five ways to prevent this from happening again:

  1. Limit the amount of time your child spends online, and when necessary take breaks from technology altogether. Remember, a steady balance of indoor and outdoor activity is essential to a healthy mind.
  2. Invest in parental monitoring software. This can be a great way to stay aware of concerning activity on their computer or smartphone. A lot of software products push information to you in real-time, allowing you to be proactive versus reactive.
  3. Implement a family technology contract. This will help your children have a clear understanding of the rules related to their use of technology, and consequences for breaking those rules.
  4. Remind your child that it is never, ever okay to be disrespectful, hurtful or mean to another person, online or offline.
  5. Finally, give your child a hug. Remind them how much you love them. Let them know your first job is to be their parent and that you’re there to help them learn from their mistakes.

About the Author

Mary Kay is a nationally recognized family online safety expert. She is the mother of five children ranging in age from 8 – 21 years old. She is the founder & president of Yoursphere Media Inc., which focuses on the family & publishes the award-winning kids’ social network Yoursphere.com, and the Internet safety resource site YoursphereForParents.com. Mary Kay has been profiled on CNN, BBC, E!, Fox & Friends, Lifetime TV and ABC 20/20. She is also published on Yahoo! Shine, Dr. Laura.com, Wellness.com and many other family-focused websites.

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