How much do you know about cyberbullying?

Here are four things many parents don’t know:

Most parents of victims have no idea it’s happening. Cyberbullying happens in a sort of parallel communication universe, one that most parents simply don’t have access to. It happens in text messages passed between kids, on social media sites parents don’t visit or in posts they can’t see because of privacy settings. Victims often don’t want to tell their parents about it; they may be embarrassed–or, quite simply, they may not fully realize that they are being bullied. They know that what is happening makes them feel bad–but may not connect with the fact that it is wrong and something that they should tell someone about. In part, that’s because…

Many kids think of it as “drama”, not bullying. If you talk to teens, many will tell you that drama is a fact of life for them and their peers. Some of what they see online or in text messages may make them squirm, but they don’t necessarily think of it as wrong or bad, let alone something they need to react to or try to stop because of the damage it could do. Parents can play an important role here in helping their kids understand that whether you call it drama or bullying, it can hurt–sometimes very badly.

Bullies are often the popular kids–or are victims of bullying themselves. Bullies are not just big mean kids who beat up little kids for their lunch money. Popular kids may be particularly good at the social nuance that makes bullying particularly powerful–and may be particularly invested in it if they feel that it is somehow helping their social status. They also have an air of deniability; parents and teachers might find it hard to believe that a student who appears well-liked by peers, is an athlete or a good student, could be capable of being mean and hurtful.

At the same time, it’s important to be thoughtful, and ask questions, when bullying is discovered. Many bullies have learned the behavior from being bullied themselves–or are lashing out because they’ve been hurt. While bullies should be punished–it’s behavior that must have consequences–they may also need real help.

Cyberbullying should never be ignored. Even seemingly “little” things, like a text message that makes fun of somebody, should get a reaction. What we need to teach our youth is that it’

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About the Author

Clayton Cranford
Clayton Cranford is a retired Sergeant from Orange County Sheriff's Department in California and owner of Total Safety Solutions LLC. Clayton is one of the nation’s leading law enforcement educators on social media, child safety, and behavioral threat assessments. Clayton is the author of the definitive book on cyber safety for families, “Parenting in the Digital World.” Clayton has more than 20 years of teaching experience and was awarded the 2015 National Bullying Prevention Award from the School Safety Advocacy Council, and the 2015 American Legion Medal of Merit. Clayton was a member of the County's Behavioral Threat Assessment Team, Crisis Negotiation Team, School Resource Officer program, and Juvenile Bureau.