Bullying and cyberbullying is a major concern today. When we read headlines of youth taking their lives and read more about their life — what they experienced, what they felt, was the end of the world. Especially cyberbullying that can spread so fast and furious – their entire school campus and community feels like it was closing in on them.
They soon feel like there is no way out. The shame, the humiliation, and peer cruelty can be overwhelming.
Experts have discovered the majority of kids and teens don’t tell their parents when they are being harassed or teased for fear of further embarrassment or the parent may remove their life-long, the Internet. Keep in mind, the technology is not the issue — it’s the people using it.
Bullying can affect everyone—those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. It is important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying—or something else—is a concern.
Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues.
Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience:
- Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
- Health complaints
- Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.
Kids who bully others can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood.
Kids who bully are more likely to:
- Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults
- Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school
- Engage in early sexual activity
- Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults
- Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults
Talk with your kids about cyberbullying and other online issues regularly.
- Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities. Ask where they’re going, what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with.
- Tell your kids that as a responsible parent you may review their online communications if you think there is reason for concern. Installing parental control filtering software or monitoring programs are one option for monitoring your child’s online behavior, but do not rely solely on these tools.
- Have a sense of what they do online and in texts. Learn about the sites they like. Try out the devices they use.
- Ask for their passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency.
- Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites or ask another trusted adult to do so.
- Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyberbullied. Explain that you will not take away their computers or cell phones if they confide in you about a problem they are having.
If your teen is struggling with issues from being bullied or cyberbullied and has become withdrawn, be sure to reach out and get them help. If you have exhausted all your local resources and they are continuing to shut-down, it may be time to consider residential therapy. Contact us for more information.