If you suspect your child is being bullied online you must act straight away.
In our opinion, any form of social media is no place for anyone under the age of 18.
Unbelievably, you can have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Kik and Snapchat account at age 13. For Vine, Tinder and Yik Yak it’s 17. Youtube is 18 and WhatsApp is 16.
Let’s face it, most adults have experienced difficult encounters on social media. Can you imagine what it must be like for a child or young adult to have to deal with that at such a young age?
Children do not have the experience or knowledge of how to deal with something that might start out as something very trivial, that turns into something bigger, serious and unmanageable.
We as parents need to acknowledge that it is our responsibility to ensure we restrict access to social media for our children. If we fail to do this, we are in effect placing them in this situation in the first place.
Now here’s how to deal with it:
1. When talking with your child about it, remain calm and encouraging. Do give lots of support and comfort and let the child know that you have their best interest at heart.Take screen shots of the offending post as you may need to use them later. Save them and email them to yourself for safe keeping.
2. You could report the offending post to the admin of the social media provider or contact the Police straight away if it is very serious. That way, the admin and/or Police can see the offending post whilst it is still online. If this is not appropriate, report it either to the person who uploaded it and demand that it is taken down or report it to the admin of the social media account. I would discuss these options with your child before you take this step, particular if you need to contact the person who uploaded it directly.
3. Change the password of the account(s).
4. Deactivate all the accounts.
5. Now your child cannot re-activate the account without the new password. This also gives you access to view the account(s) to check that nothing else has been uploaded or any further offending posts are generated. If you do see more, follow steps 1 and 2 above.
6. Depending on how serious the offending posts are and who they involve, you should consider reporting the issue to the Police, Social Services or your childs School (if the issue is between school friends).
7. If the issue is at school, regardless of what the child says, you must stand up for your child and you should not feel afraid of any repercussions from other parents or the school. Remember, you can always take your child out of that school and away from the bullying if everything else fails.
If bullying is left unresolved it will only get worse. The only way to tackle it is to meet it head on. If your child is being bullied, you MUST act.
The following guide has come out recently in the US which focuses on children’s safety online. Click here for further information and guidance.
Teachers now have the authority to discipline children for bullying incidents that happen outside school.
What are the signs?
- Overly quiet
- Tearful for no apparent reason
- Isolating themselves
- Not wanting to attend any school parties or events arranged by classmates
- Having problems concentrating or with homework
- Not spending much time texting or online or being upset following being online or texting
What can I do?
- Follow steps 1 to 7 above.
- Help your child to keep a diary, no matter how hard it is for you to hear. The diary should be used as evidence.
- If your child feels more comfortable talking with someone else about it, don’t be offended. Maybe there is another adult in the family or a particular teacher at school. Give your child every option to feel comfortable talking about the issue.
- If it is happening with school friends, they should have an anti bullying policy, check their website, print it, read it and take it with you when you approach the school about the situation.
- When you meet with the teacher, ask them how they deal with bullying.
- Once the meeting has taken place, ensure that the teacher checks in with you once a week to give you a progress report on how things are progressing.
- If the school does not respond in a satisfactory manner, check their complaints procedure which you should find on their website. Print it, read it and follow it.
If you remain unhappy contact your local authority here.
If you feel your child needs counselling at any point, click here.