Cyberbullying - For Parents

What Can Be Done?
If your child is a victim of cyberbullying, you are probably feeling a mixture of anger and helplessness. Bathroom graffiti can be erased easily, while a website or online posting can be much more difficult to remove. Your first instinct might be to sue the heck out of 'em, but that route is the most expensive one, and may not work in your situation.

Important Steps To Take

  1. Tell your child that you will both work together to make it stop.
  2. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. Print out the web pages. Take a screen shot (if you don't know how, visit this site: http://www.take-a-screenshot.org). Write down any in-person or phone conversations. You might find the content offensive, but you need evidence if you want authority figures to assist you.
  3. If you believe the bullying is coming from a school classmate, research your school's anti-bullying policy, then approach school administrators for a resolution.
  4. You may be able to reach out to the other parent to stop the behavior. This requires diplomacy, since parents will often defend their child's behavior, even if it's inappropriate. Plus, if the bullying child finds out, they may increase their efforts on the "tattler".
  5. You may be able to reach out to the company that is hosting the offending material. Facebook, Google +, MySpace, and other service providers have policies in place and teams to deal with complaints about abusive posts on their service.
  6. If physical threats are involved, or if a crime has been committed, you should call the police.
  7. Legal action may be a last resort. Laws will vary in your state and municipality, and you will save a lot of money in legal fees if you have gathered all of your evidence, and done some basic research into your state laws on harassment. Read this brief Wikipedia entry on libel and slander before you call. Keep in mind that you could spend several hundred dollars to get an opinion from an attorney.

Potential Legal Approaches to a Cyberbullying Case
The American Bar Association offers a summary for attorneys, with questions they must ask before advising a client. Be sure to read the section entitled, "Did the behavior constitute a civil tort?"

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Texting is by far the most dominant form of communication among teens today, even outpacing face-to-face conversation.