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Do you know if Your Child is Being Cyberbullied?

Special to the Washington Family Engagement Trust 

By  Amy K. Williams

Have you noticed that your child is upset after checking his social media or email accounts?

Is she becoming withdrawn and less communicative?

Does she seem like she is depressed or sad, and you can’t pinpoint a reason?

Is your child reluctant to participate in activities that he once enjoyed?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, and considering that cyberbullying rates have tripled in the past year, there is a chance that your child is the victim of cyberbulling.

While no parent wants to find out that their child is being bullied, not knowing about the problem is far worse. You are your child’s top advocate. Knowing the warning signs, being aware of the problem, and offering your child help is her best defense in the case of bullying.

 What is Cyberbullying?

 Bullying isn’t new. It’s been a problem that has existed long before grade schools and playgrounds. What has changed about bullying is the manner in which it is done.

According to StopBullying.gov, cyberbulling is a form of bullying that occurs over technology, including:

  • Text messages

  • Email

  • Social media

  • Websites

Examples of cyberbullying include:

  • Sending mean emails or text messages

  • Spreading rumors about someone on social media sites

  • Creating a fake profiles on social media sites and other websites

  • Posting embarrassing photographs or videos via online outlets

What Makes Cyberbullying Different than “Traditional” Bullying?

 All forms of bullying are unjust and cruel; however cyberbullying is particularly problematic because the victim often has a difficult time escaping the harassment. Since technology is always on, kids who are cyberbullied can be beleaguered at all hours of the day, even when they are not in the company of the bully. 

Another factor that makes cyberbullying particularly troublesome is the fact that it can be done anonymously, and the bullying can reach a wide audience. As a result, the victim may feel like he doesn’t have a safe-zone and identifying the tormenter can be difficult.

Signs of Cyberbullying

As a parent, being aware of the signs of cyberbullying is crucial. If you are aware that a problem exists, you have a better chance to help your child; and your child has a better chance of solace.

The Anti-Defamation League states that the following are key signs that a child is being cyberbullied:

  • Declining grades

  • Upset, irritated, or aggravated when using technology; checking a text message or a social media site, for example

  • Loss of interest in activities that he or she was one interested in

  • Avoidance of social settings

  • Loss of friends

  • Signs of depression

  • Overall unhappiness, anger, and/or fear

Impact of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can have severe and lasting effects. Children who are victimized by this type of cruel behavior have a greater chance of using drugs and/or alcohol, skipping or dropping out of school, having self-esteem and self-image issues, and may become severely depressed. In extreme situations, a child who is victimized by cyberbullying may consider taking drastic measures to stop the hurt by inflicting pain or harm on others, or on him- or herself.

How to Handle Cyberbullying?

 If you suspect that your child is being cyberbullied, there are ways that you can help. In fact, your help can make all the difference in the world. Here are some ways that you can assist your child:

Be supportive and understanding. Never yell, blame, or make your child feel like it is his fault, or that the problem isn’t a big deal. At the same time, you don’t want to overreact, as doing so may make your child reluctant to talk to you.

Talk to guidance counselors, administrators, teachers, and other faculty at her school. Make them aware of the problem so they can be on the lookout for any questionable behavior.

Contact your local law enforcement. If there is a chance that personal contact information has been compromised, you need to take appropriate action to prevent even bigger problems from developing.

Cyberbullying is a real threat for today’s children, but with knowledge, compassion, and understanding, you can keep your child protected.

 Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be. @AmyKWilliams1

 

Collaborative Practice: Passions that Bind and not Titles that Confine

By on July 5, 2016

The notion of “not doing this work alone” is heavily encouraged within the social work field, emphasizing the importance of supervision, collaboration, and supportive colleagues. But what happens when we create opportunities with a more diverse and expanded group? Collaborative practice is an established guideline within the field of social work, a core ethic ascribed to by social workers. But collaboration is anything but static or one dimensional. It is practiced in diverse ways and with equally diverse agendas. One of the many forms of collaborative practice is illustrated through the growing movement of having those with whom we work inform our services.

Collaboration on a large scale, as seen in systems, committees, and directed programs can feel overwhelming and perhaps even uncomfortable. This led a parent, Karen Copeland, and a professional social worker, Laurie Schulz, to wonder what they might be able to accomplish if they challenged their ideas of partnering. What kind of opportunities would be created? How might this influence their perspectives on the value of collaboration?

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