Cyberbullying

 

Teen Cyberbullying Warning Signs

  • stops using their devices (typically if a teenager who once loved social media suddenly stops using their phone, something might be wrong)

  • Anxious or nervous when using their phone or checking text messages

  • angry or frustrated after responding to text messages

  • increased depression or anxiety

  • sleeps a lot or not enough

  • eats more than usually or stops eating all together

  • frequent calls from school asking parents to pick them up

  • starts to lose interest in friends and/or activities that they used to once enjoy

  • making statements about suicide (even in a non-serious or joking way)

  • abnormally withdrawn from friend groups

  • scared to go to school

  • skips classes in school

  • bad grades or beginning to fail certain classes

  • wanting to change his or her phone number

  • creating new social media accounts to start over

Cyberbullying and Teen Suicide

Unfortunately, sometimes teenagers feel like they can't get through what they're struggling with and because of this, they attempt to take their own life so they won't have to deal with it anymore.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to a parent, guidance counselor, family member, or a best friend. We understand that you feel like it will never get better, but with the correct help, you can recover and get past your current struggles. Bullying and school should never make you feel like you don't belong, because you always matter. No matter what anyone says, you are worth more than you will ever see.

Signs That Your Child Is Feeling Suicidal Due To Bullying

  • Talking about suicide, even in general terms, or seeming focused on thoughts of death and dying (even in a joking way)

  • Showing changes in sleeping patterns (too much sleep or no sleep at all)

  • Increase in drinking or drug use

  • Giving away cherished belongings to friends and family

  • Showing a drastic change in habits and behaviors

  • No longer wanting to engage with friends such as missing events that your child used to enjoy with their family or friends

  • No longer seems to get pleasure from activities that were once previously enjoyed such as sports, music, or art

  • Sudden changes in eating patterns

  • Starts engaging in risky behaviors

  • Stops caring about how he or she looks

  • Acquiring a gun or other means to commit suicide

  • Visible signs of depression, such as a persistent sadness, helplessness, and/or hopelessness

Bullying and School

Online harassment may take place at night and at the teen's home, but the fallout of that same bullying is often seen at school and can interfere with the educational environment. Sometimes, students are so worried about cyberbullying that they can't focus on their school work or homework. Sometimes it can affect a teen so much, that they may even be scared of going to school.

Schools are often struggling to create policies that deal with cyberbullying and when it's appropriate to use cell phones in school. We suggest that schools set guidelines surrounding the usage of phones and social media in the school setting. It's recommended that schools create rules such as allowing students to use their phones in study hall and lunch, but NOT during normal class periods.

Schools are an important place to meet with parents to discuss how the school can better protect the teens of the district. Invite parents to workshops about bullying and share the school's policy and get their input on it. Bullying should never be tolerated in school, but it's equally as important for the school to teach kids about bullying, even if it doesn't happen on school grounds.

Helping Cyberbullied Teens

  • Recognize – Recognize if there has been a change in mood or behavior and look into what the cause may. Whether you're a friend or a parent of the teen, make sure you help them if they look like they may need support. Do not just assume that someone else will do it. Try to determine if these changes happen around a teen's use of their phone.

  • Speak to them – We know that it can be awkward or scary for your teen to sit down with you and discuss how they're feeling and what's happening, but it is very important to do so. Sit down with them in a non-confrontational way and talk to them about how they are feeling. Respect their boundaries and let them know that you are always there to support them, no matter what it is that they are struggling with.

  • Document all bullying and abuse – Keep a record of what is happening and where it happens. Take screenshots of harmful posts or content if possible and save it on your phone. Most laws and policies note that bullying is a repeated behavior, so records help to document it if it were to ever get worse where police or crime services would have to get involved.

  • Report bullying – Most social media platforms and schools have clear policies about how to report abuse. If a classmate is cyberbullying, report it to the school as well as to the social media platform it's being done on.  If a child has received physical threats, or if a potential crime or illegal behavior is occurring, report it to the police as soon as you hear about it. The police may not always be able to do something about it, but it is always best to report threats of abuse.

  • Support – Friends, mentors, and trusted adults can sometimes intervene and should intervene to help struggling youth.  If possible, try to determine if more professional support is needed for those involved, such as speaking with a guidance counselor if needed. Also, if you are a parent, work with your child to help keep them safe.

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