Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What to do before bullying begins

Webnotes by: Theresa Payton, Fortalice, LLC. Content also featured on WBTV's "Protecting Your Cyberturf" segment featuring Kristen Miranda and Theresa Payton.

Parents want to know what they can do before bullying begins.

The studies are all over the place but they have 1 thing in common - chances are your kid will be bullied in some way in the digital world. It could be an inappropriate photo, a mean text, or a secret exposed that embarasses them.  Research suggests that as many as ⅓ of all kids will experience cyberbullying and between as many as 20% of students could be a cyberbully.  Many experts have talked about how to stop bullying but you have told us you want to do more.  

 Amanda Todd, a Canadian teen, recently posted a youtube video talking about the pain she had been put through by her digital tormentors and then took her own life.  Our hearts go out to her parents and loved ones as they deal with this horrific loss.  It has left many of you asking as a parent what can you do if your son or daughter becomes a victim of digital bullying.  Cyber expert, Theresa Payton, has some tips for parents that could block the bullying or help head off a situation before it gets out of control.

1.  Safe Zone:  Before your child has a digital social life, establish a safe zone.  Kids tell surveys they don’t immediately report issues online because they don’t want to be digitally grounded.  Promise them you will not ground them if they come to you immediately with an issue even if they caused it.  

2.  Warning Signs:  Obsessive checking of emails, texts, social media accounts.  Or the opposite, completely withdrawn.  Moody.  Spells of sleeping or being hyper.

3.  Monitoring:  Always have a trust but verify rule in place.  Tell your child you will be actively checking their accounts and follow through.  Don’t snoop because you will create mistrust and you need a healthy and open line of communication.

4.  Legal action:  Blackmail, stalking, threatening online does have some legal protections.  File a police report and then contact a lawyer.  

5.  Online action:  Often a bully will go away if you ignore them.  This is the best first step.  But if the harassment becomes relentless, involves physical harm, or mental duress, you have courses of action you can take with online companies.  Go to customer support and seek help.

6.  Get help:  Seek counseling.  Your child is not alone.  Often, they feel as if their life is over and by seeking out counseling they can work through the shame, self blame and embarrassment

7.  Get educated together:  Before their digital social life takes off, spend time together playing internet safety games.  It’s a great way to have fun together while reinforcing important lessons.  If you have a teen, is a great place to watch videos and play games that talk about cyberbullying.  Another great resource is

SURFACE.  This is the new Microsoft tablet that wants to take on the iPad and other tablets in the market.  Coming soon to a store near you.  It has a 10.6-inch screen and a pop-out kickstand.  Pricing starts at just under $500.  

For step by step instructions on how to report bullying on Facebook:

How to stop bullying via the smart phone or cellphone:
Call your cell phone provider and have them walk you through options to monitor or block posts.  You can also request a free cell phone number change.

Contact Customer Support at Social Media networks:
Google products such as YouTube, Google+ all have standard features while on the product:
  • If you see abusive or inappropriate content, click the down-arrow to the right of the post or content and select report abuse. 
  • To report a person specifically, there is also an option to “Report this Profile” .  Look on the left side of the person’s profile. 
For YouTube videos, there is extra help at:

Play internet safety games together as a family that cover cyberbullying:

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