October is National Bullying Prevention Month which unites communities nationwide to raise awareness of bullying prevention. At Agora Cyber Charter School, one of the main reasons parents choose cyber education for their child is to escape the bullying that takes place more commonly at a brick and mortar school. Because of the online education setting, many cyber schools like Agora, also take extra precautions to prevent cyberbullying within our online school.
Here are a few ways that parents can help identify and prevent cyberbullying at home and while online:
Monitor your child’s computer and phone usage – for Agora families this should be easy! Agora’s learning coaches are already involved with their child's educational experience and spend most of their time using their school-issued computer. Depending on the age of your child, a cell phone can be a blessing and a curse. Whether your child is bullying or being bullied, it is highly likely that some sort of exchange is occurring over text.
Explain cyberbullying to your child - Sometimes, to stop bullying is simply a matter of understanding it. Technology doesn’t take away feelings, and if you’re saying (or sending) hurtful things, someone will be affected.
- Is your child a victim? Explain to them that there is nothing to be ashamed of, and if anyone says mean things, upsets or threatens them they should tell a trusted adult right away.
- Do you suspect your child is cyber bullying others? Tell them that, just because they can’t see the person they’re hurting on the other side of their screen, doesn’t mean they aren’t hurting them.
The best offense is a good defense - The best way to deal with cyber bullying is to prevent it!
- Make sure your child knows to always log out of everything after using a computer – their email, Facebook, twitter, message boards, etc.
- Teach them to always keep their personal information private; don’t share phone numbers, addresses, schedules, photos or secrets online – because you never quite know who you’re talking to.
- Use the "block" and "report" functions! You can block phone numbers, Facebook users, emails, gamers – basically, if they’re online, you can block them. If someone is making your child uncomfortable, tell them to hit block and report, don’t let the bullying continue!
It is estimated that 95% of adolescents have witnessed some form of cyberbullying, yet only 10% of parents are aware that their child is being bullied, and only 1% view bullying as a serious issue! Be it via texting or Facebook, any bully “without a face” is a cyber bully. Studies have shown that youth subject to this form of bullying are more likely to experience depression and thoughts of suicide.
What can you do to put a stop to bullying in your community and online? Let us know in the comments below!