Did you know that 43 percent of children have been on the receiving end of cyberbullying, according to Dosomething.org? Furthermore, only ten percent of affected children go to a parent or other authority figure to let them know about the bullying. Social networking, cell phones, and instant messaging open up new vectors for bullying that parents have never had to deal with before. It’s important to know the facts about identity theft associated with cyberbullying as well. As the world gets more connected, the threat of cyberbullying continues to increase. The first steps to helping your child deal with cyberbullying is educating yourself about the signs, learning to see the early warning signs of bullying, and learning about the vectors of bullying.

How Kids Bully Online

The anonymity of the Internet makes it easier for cyberbullies to launch attacks on their victims. Facebook is a common site used for cyberbullying. Bullies can attack through instant message chat, as well as by posting on the child’s profile. Some children also create fake Facebook accounts to defame the targets of their bullying. Text messages are another way that cyberbullies harass their victims. Bullying may take place in isolated instances or over long periods of time, with one-on-one or group bullying. These attacks damage the child’s self-esteem and can cause depression or lead to suicide attempts. It’s important to educate yourself on the signs of cyberbullying so you know what’s going on even if your child won’t tell you. According to CNN, there are several key signs to look out for:

Warning Signs of Cyberbullying

  • Socially withdrawn
  • Abstains from technology use
  • Anxiety related to received messages
  • Behavioral issues

How to Protect Your Kids From Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying isn’t going to go away, but you can take steps to protect your child from the effects of it. Ensuring that your child knows how to keep themselves safe online is the first step. Instead of verbally abusing others alone, some bullies hack into the social networking accounts of their victims. They may use the child’s identity information for other purposes, leading to financial repercussions as well.

Fostering a sense of open communication between yourself and your child is the first step to avoiding cyberbullying. When your kids let you know what’s going on, it’s easier to stop the abuse in the beginning before it escalates. If your children won’t talk to you about these issues, talk to their friends or their friends’ parents to see if they know about what is going on. Consider using computer monitoring software to track your kid’s activities online if you can’t get any information out of them or their friends. According to Dosomething.org, 58 percent of children have said malicious things online, which shows how prevalent cyberbullying has become. The New York Times reports many stories about children and parents who have dealt with cyberbullying and the devastating effects it leaves with them.

Dealing with the parents of a cyberbullying child can be difficult, as many don’t want to admit their child is capable of such behavior. Approaching them with in a respectful and non-confrontational manner can help diffuse the situation, and help you to reach a mutually agreeable outcome.