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 online, it is an intentional 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 type up their hateful message. Then, possibly after admiring it, they will click send.
Yes, I have just summarized what Paul said so he get’s 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 to be saying is “I didn’t mean to get caught.”
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 would be very impactful.
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.
Here’s the important part – 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. As hard as it might be to admit, if your child is doing this to others then you can be part of the solution. Talk to your child. Send them for counselling. Don’t wait for them to be arrested. 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!