What to do if my child is accused of being an online bully?

Wednesday 2 November 2016

What to do if my child is accused of being an online bully?

To help school and home life run as smoothly as possible for children, KCOM are supporting an eight-week cyberbullying awareness campaign run by Internet Matters.

Each week, we’ll share tips and advice on a unique topic, with this particular article focusing on steps to follow if your own child is the one doing the cyberbullying.

As a parent, it may be extremely difficult to accept that your child has been bullying another. It may be equally tough to understand exactly why your child has been behaving badly.

However, there are many ways in which you can address the issue of cyberbullying. Here are some of our thoughts on what you can do if your child is accused of online bullying.

Discover the problem

Firstly, you need to find out why your child has behaved this way. Often bullies are driven to harass others due to an underlying issue.

Moving forward and finding a solution to the cyberbullying problem could well mean resolving problems that your child faces.

Don’t get upset

The most important thing is to stay calm and try not to let your own emotions get the better of you. Even if the situation’s cause is down to your parenting methods, it does not necessarily mean that you are a bad parent. It could simply be a case of changing the relationship you have with your child in subtle ways.

If you need to discuss your feelings, speak to other trusted adults and talk through any emotions you have. Try not to be angry at your child, as they could be hurting as much as the victim.

Explain why it’s wrong

Many young children do not fully understand the severity of their cyberbullying activity. That’s why, as parents, we must explain the effect this sort of unacceptable behaviour can have on others.

Perhaps ask them how they would feel if someone were treating them in the way they have acted towards others. And don’t hesitate to mention that cyberbullying can be reported to school and even the police.

Reach out to others

It may be embarrassing to admit that your child has been behaving badly online, but it is important to collaborate with others to rectify the problem.

Talk to family members or schoolteachers and work with them to send a clear message to your child that their behaviour is wrong.

You could also contact the parent of the child they have been harassing if you feel it will be beneficial. Approach this with caution, as they could be feeling as hurt and confused as you. Reassure them that you are working on a solution, and offer your support.

Don’t ignore it

It can be very hard to admit that your child has done or said something horrible to another child. Nevertheless, we must remember that many children are capable of such actions, especially with the ability to remain anonymous online.

It is vital that you do not brush these situations under the carpet, or blame someone else for a child’s actions. We must all demonstrate to young people that taking responsibility for our actions is always the right thing to do.

Encourage positive behaviour

Changing a child’s behaviour after they’ve acted so negatively can seem daunting. Nonetheless, transforming their attitude is definitely a step in the right direction.

Use positive reinforcement methods, such as praising them when they go out of their way to do something good for one of their peers. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to take away privileges if they return to their old behaviours of bullying.

Additionally, be sure to engage your children in activities that encourage empathy, respect and compassion. Most importantly, remember to be patient as your child learns these new habits.

Don’t forget that much of the behaviour we see in children is learnt from their parents. It’s important to be aware of your own behaviour and attitude towards others too.

Finally, if you know a parent, child or teacher that could benefit from this information, please share it with them. Together we can keep children safe and happy at home and school.

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