How to tell if your child is being cyber-bullied

Last month, in British Columbia, Canada, a 15-year old girl named Amanda Todd killed herself. The reason: cyberbullying.

The case has brought to light the devastating effects that cyberbullying can have on a person. Todd’s death has affected Canadians immediately and deeply. Parents are suddenly asking themselves: Is my child being cyber-bullied? How would I know?

Sarah Eaton's education blogStopBullying.gov (a U.S. website) says warning signs that your child may be the victim of face-to-face or any type bullying include:

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry.
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness.
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares.
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school.
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations.
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem.
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide.

The Cyberbulling Research Centre says that 1o% to 40% of youth may be the victim of cyberbulling. They add to the list of warning signs by zooming in on key indicators that make cyberbulling different from other kinds of bullying:

Signs your child is the victim of cyberbullying

Your child may be the victim of cyberbullying if he or she:

  • unexpectedly stops using their computer or cell phone.
  • appears nervous or jumpy when an instant message or email appears.
  • appears uneasy about going to school or outside in general.
  • appears to be angry, depressed, or frustrated after using the computer or cell phone.
  • avoids discussions about what they are doing on he computer or cell phone.
  • or becomes abnormally withdrawn from usual friends and family members.

The Cyberbullying Research Centre offers numerous free resources for parents, children and teachers to help you stay safe online, including this awesome cyberbullying prevention tip sheet for teens.

Cyberbulling is a real phenomenon that affects tens of thousands of children (and adults) around the world on a daily basis. I am not an expert in this area, but I firmly believe that every person deserves love, respect and safety. Deepest condolences to the family of Amanda Todd.

References

Amercian Humane Association. (n.d.). Cyber Bullying Prevention and Intervention.   Retrieved November 19, 2012, from http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/cyber-bullying-prevention-and-intervention.html

Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (n.d.). Cyberbulling: Indentification, prevention and response. Retrieved from http://www.cyberbullying.us/Cyberbullying_Identification_Prevention_Response_Fact_Sheet.pdf

StopBullying.gov. (n.d.). Warning signs.   Retrieved 2012, 2012, from http://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/warning-signs/index.html#bullying

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This is the first in a series of posts on cyberbulling. Check out these related posts:

5 Signs your child is a cyberbully http://wp.me/pNAh3-1AM

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.

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