Updated: September 22, 2020 | Original Post: October 23, 2019
Full disclosure – I’m writing this after sitting through my third Internet Security session run by Paul Davis and he made a great point about cyber bullying that I’ve never heard before and was bang on – it is never an accident.
When a child or teen decides to bully somebody else, whether in person or online, it is an intentional and purposeful action. Posting something online for others to see involves a lot of steps. First, they have to login to whichever platform they are going to use. Then, select the audience. After that (or maybe before depending on the platform) they will create their hateful message. Then, possibly after admiring it, they will click send. This is NOT an accident.
Yes, I have just summarized what Paul said so he deserves full credit. Now ask yourself – are any of those actions an accident? If that child or teen says to their parents “I didn’t mean to do it” they are lying. They did a multi-step process with the end goal of hurting somebody else. What they really mean is “I didn’t mean to get caught.”
The York Regional Police website provides a very good summary of what cyber bullying is and how to deal with it.
If your child is being bullied, I think the best recourse is to report it to the school principal. Depending on what was done and the ages involved I would also report it to the police. Paul suggested that involving a lawyer might also be worth doing – a lawyer’s letter to the bully’s parents can be very impactful.
It is worth look at the York Region District School Board’s section on cyber bullying as well for some very good advice and information.
By reporting it you are telling the bully that your child is not going to be an easy target/victim. The good news about cyber bullying is that they will likely make it easy to prove – take screenshots. Save whatever you can and show it to the principal/police/lawyer. The more you can give to them, the greater the chance that the bully will be held accountable.
Finally, and this is never easy to say – if you are the parent of a bully then you must help your child. Being a bully does not have to be a life sentence and a bully needs help. As hard as it might be to admit that your child is a bully, if your child is doing this to others you can be part of the solution. Talk to your child. Send them for counselling. Don’t wait for them to be arrested or worse. You don’t want to be the parent of a bully that caused, by their actions, the suicide of another human being.
Thanks again to Paul for his great session!