Youth Villages stories
Bullying Awareness amid COVID
By: Natasha Bonner
Bullying has a tremendous impact on children and adolescents. As we enter uncharted territory during the COVID-19 pandemic, the internet is surging with virtual learning and extended access to social media.
It is important for caregivers to know how to protect children from becoming a victim of bullying by classmates or others online.
Below are a few tips for parents and caregivers.
- Monitor your child’s social media and educational learning platforms. This allows bullying situations to immediately become noticed by supervising adults.
- Check in with your child daily. Communicating about day-to-day school positives and negativities builds an assertive communicator.
- Children may feel more pressured to perform well while at home, may experience heightened anxiety, isolation or stress. It is important to have a specific area in the home to provide a safe space.
- Set behavior expectations for online activity. Children may not recognize harmful online behaviors. Discuss with your child their definition of bullying and cyberbullying to provide steps on how to handle the experience or a witness incident.
Warning signs can arise if your child is experiencing bullying. Some things to be aware of include:
- Wanting to stay in bed or complaining of a tummy ache or other illness
- Feeling hopeless or isolated
- Self-destructive behaviors, such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
- Self-injurious behaviors or suicidal ideations
- Aggressive outbursts toward family members
As parents, what can you do if your child experiences cyberbullying?
- Be supportive of your child.
- Reassure them you are there to help and not judge.
- Screenshot interactions or examples of cyberbullying to document the situation and inform your child’s teacher and school administrators.
- Update privacy settings to eliminate unwanted messages.
When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time. Parents, school staff, and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy.