When to Get The School Involved If A Child is Cyberbullied

Oct 10, 2016

School is supposed to be a place where children learn, socialize, play and grow. The farthest thought from a parent’s mind is their child coming home from school depressed, withdrawn, hurt, injured or sad. Unfortunately, we see too many cases of bullying in the schools today, including cyberbullying. Growing up decades ago, when one thought of a bully, they would associate it with the playground or recess time at school (or after school). Today, the bullying has stepped it up to heightened new measures, especially with the use of social media websites and apps.

Parents struggle with this issue daily. Some of the questions that come to mind are:

  • How did this happen?
  • Who is involved?
  • Does the school know what is going on?
  • What are the other parents doing about this?
  • When should I get the school involved?
  • Should I call the parents of the child who is bullying my child?

While there is no “perfect” answer to most of these questions, there are methods that can be taken in order to deal with a bullying incident. If any behavior “disrupts the learning environment” a school is liable to address the issue. Therefore, if a child is being bullied by another student (even if it takes place outside of the school property) the school needs to address this with all parties involved.

One of the issues we see is that parents do not even know their child is being bullied. They are the last to know! The teachers can detect some of these behaviors quicker at times. This is one reason why schools (staff and administration) must understand and be trained on the “red flags” and “signs” that someone is being bullied (online included) in their classroom. If parents have intercepted any social media posts (usually the bully will harass the victim online), it is important to screen shot all posts. This will serve as evidence when presented to the school. If parents suspect that their child is being bullied, it is much better if they present the evidence to the school when reporting it. Many of these cases are “hear say” which can be more difficult to prove. Most parents (of the bully) will defend their children (even with evidence).

It is recommended that parents get to the bottom of the bullying acts early on (before it’s too late). Many bullying incidents have been linked to suicide. It is better to be safe than sorry! However, it is also important to have the facts and evidence collected before making an accusation (a harsh accusation). There are many “signs” that one is being bullied including:

  • Depression
  • Withdrawn from friends/family
  • Grades start decreasing
  • Lack of sleep or sleeping all of the time
  • Weight Loss/Gain
  • Mood swings
  • Fighting more with friends/family

If parents start to see these signs, it is imperative to document everything. Collecting data on these behaviors, including dates, times, and specific details is needed to help you (as a parent) present your case. It is not recommended to ever call the “bully’s parents”. In most cases these parents will defend their child, deny any allegations and possibly turn the story around on your child. If a school has their own School Resource Officer, this is a great resource to tap into as well! They have the legal advice that parents may need if the incident escalates.

Parental control software with monitoring tools is often the first line of defense in protecting your child by alerting you to hate speech, profanity, inappropriate behavior or harmful online searches such as suicide, violence, drugs, or guns. Monitoring solutions for families to use at home in addition to school that have remote access and alerts, like Net Nanny, is an essential tactic that families can use to be on top of what is going on in their child’s life. Having an open relationship with your child’s school is essential in order to nurture the learning environment. Schools are prepared to help parents deal with issues of bullying anytime!