Take a Stand Against Cyberbullying

      Cyberbullying is on the rise, University of Portland Associate Professor Jacqueline Waggoner and Assistant Professor Hillary Merk joined us today to talk about steps parents and communities can take against cyberbullying.

      What are some of the signs and symptoms that a child may be being bullied?
      a. Avoids the computer, cell phone, and other technological devices
      b. Appears stressed when receiving an e-mail, instant message, or text message
      c. Avoids conversations about computer use
      d. Is secretive when using the computer, wanting to hide the screen from adults
      e. Withdraws from family and friends, or acts reluctant to attend school and social events
      f. Makes up excuses not to go to school
      g. Exhibits signs of low self-esteem, including sadness, depression, and/or fear
      h. Has declining grades
      i. Has poor eating or sleeping habits

      What should parents do if they suspect their child is being cyberbullied?
      a. Lend a supportive ear to talk about it and develop a plan together to stop it
      b. Translate acronyms and icons (POTS-parents over the shoulder; PRW-parents R watching; TIR-teacher in room)
      i. Google "acronyms parents should know"
      c. Be observable
      i. Computer in public- not the bedroom
      d. Monitor computer history
      i. Use monitoring software (some is free, some is quite expensive but has more bells and whistles)
      e. Know what websites students frequent
      i. Block inappropriate websites
      f. Know identity of "friends" and online behaviors
      g. Tell the child not to respond to rude e-mails, text messages, and comments.
      h. If harassment is via e-mail, social networking sites, IM, and chat rooms: "Block" bullies, or delete the current account and open a new one.
      i. If harassment is via text and phone messages, change the phone number, and instruct the child only to share the new number with trustworthy people. Also, check out phone features that may allow the number to be blocked. (Discuss "trustworthy")

      What should they do if they discover their child is being cyberbullied?
      a. Save the evidence, such as e-mail and text messages, and take a picture (by camera, cell phone camera, computer screenshot) of comments and images. Also, take note of the date and time when the harassment occurred.
      b. Partner with your school. Learn the school's policy on cyberbullying and urge administrators to take a stance against all forms of bullying.
      c. Contact Internet Service Provider (ISP) or cell phone provider. Ask the website administrator or ISP to remove any webpage created to hurt your child.
      d. Make a report to, and if you feel something illegal has occurred, inform law enforcement or the school's assigned police officer.

      What should students do if they are being cyberbullied?
      a. Tell a trusted adult and friend
      b. Do not delete messages; they can be used to take action
      c. Block cyberbullying through chat rooms and instant messaging
      d. Do not open messages from someone unknown
      e. Stop looking at the messages from the cyberbully
      f. Do not reply to the person cyberbullying! No retaliation.
      g. Never share PIN numbers/passwords or post phone numbers on social networking sites

      Cyberbullying Conference coming up on October 2nd.
      a. Student leadership teams (students and teachers/counselors) from local high schools will learn about what cyberbullying is and what can be done to report it and prevent it from happening.
      b. Students and teachers will create a cyberbullying action plan for their school. We will help student groups create the plan and will follow up with them to determine how things are going.
      c. Kids don't know how common cyber-bullying is, even among their best friends. Cyber-bulling is not a plight of a few problematic children but a shared experience." (Juvonen). We want these student leaders to go back to their schools and start the conversation about cyberbullying, and create a plan to prevent and stop it. It is much more effective to have student-to-student efforts to stop cyberbullying.
      d. Students can help create a school community of caring and positive behaviors

      Head to the Family Matters section of our website to learn more.