In a typical classroom of 25 to 30 students, eight to 10 children — a third of the class — have been cyberbullied at some point in their lifetime. About three or four students are likely to have bullied others online.
Research consistently finds that cyberbullying is associated with a number of social, emotional and academic problems. Young people who are involved in cyberbullying, either as offender or victim, are also more likely to think about and attempt suicide.
Compared to other forms of bullying, the “always on” and viral nature of cyberbullying may exacerbate these problems and a recent Canadian study suggests that the harmful impact of cyberbullying can persist into adulthood.
The days of viewing bullying as “kids being kids” are long gone. As former U.S. President Barack Obama declared at the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention in 2011: “If there’s one goal of this conference, it’s to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up. It’s not. Bullying can have destructive consequences for our young people.”
Annual events, like International Stand Up to Bullying Day on February 23th, 2018, and Pink Shirt Day on February 28th, 2018, help draw attention to cyberbullying and encourage action. But preventing cyberbullying is also a daily task that requires many people to work together.
As a researcher who studies cyberbullying, I have found that among parents, teachers and the police, parents have the most important role to play in prevention. Naturally, parents want to protect their children, and may wonder what they can do to prevent cyberbullying.
Fortunately, research suggests some practical steps that parents can take to reduce their child’s risk:
The federal police have recommended cyber safety lessons in kindergarten. Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo discuss why kids need to learn about predators young. Post continues after audio.
1. Accept your child’s online life.
Many adults clearly distinguish between their online and offline lives, but young people rarely make such distinctions — their offline and online lives are one and the same.