How to Spot Cyberbullies


Bullies come in all shapes, sizes and ages. From the sand kicker on the beach to the Twinkie stealer in the cafeteria.

The Internet is synonymous with the millennial generation. Sadly, the Cybersmile Foundation reports that every 20 minutes a youngster between 10 and 19 attempts suicide as a result of cyberbullying.

But what can you do to make sure your kids aren’t lured in? Here are some handy tips to help keep them safe online.

What Is It?

Before we get to how to spot it and prevent it, let’s look at what cyberbullying is. It’s any kind of online embarrassment using photos, rumors, fake profiles or messages via smart phone, computer and tablets.

The Warning Signs

You know how it feels when you’re embarrassed about something. You withdraw, go to ground, want to hide or even have trouble sleeping.

Same warning signs for kids who are being cyberbullied. Watch for …

  • Avoiding school
  • Seeing her quickly close a web page if you come in her room
  • A normally outgoing kid suddenly withdraws
  • Doesn’t want to use their phone or be online
  • Not sleeping

If this sounds like your child, sit him down immediately and get the information from them. How? Make them feel comfortable and supported not threatened.

And tell them this true story: A middle aged woman was setting up her home office and looking for online virtual work. On a new freelance website she was invited to apply for a virtual assistant job. Decent money, health insurance, the answer to her prayers.

She was lulled into a cyber-trap that stole money from her. Usually a strong and strident individual, she withdrew from friends and family and was certain that these bullies would find her and hurt her family.

After admitting her story to a friend in law enforcement, he encouraged her to report it to the FBI Cybercrime Unit and go after her money.

The point of the story is to let your child know that cyberbullies don’t attack just kids. They go after everyone and it’s not shameful to get lured into a trap.


It’s impossible to stop every instance of bullying but talking to your kids when they are young about cyberbullies will help them spot them online. You could even host a party with kids and parents and talk about cyberbullying and what kids have seen.

Tell them not to respond to any attacks online and block anyone who feels creepy in the social media they use.

If things escalate and the bully starts calling your child or threatening her in any way, call the local police and have them work with the cell phone provider for a trap trace on the phone if the bully’s number is unavailable. Another angle is to block the caller’s number or change your child’s phone number.

Make sure to chat regularly with your kids about what they’re seeing online. And let them know that any cyberbullying they are part of is unacceptable behavior.

The most crucial part of prevention is getting your kid to tell you what is going on and dealing with it together.

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Tips on Helping Your Child Deal with a Bully


Bullies are all around us whether we’re young or old. But it’s kids who have the toughest time dealing with them.

Here are some sure-fire ways to gently guide your child when dealing with a bully.

Put a Name to It

One of the hardest things to do is admit you’re being bullied, that you have buckled under to that pressure at school. If you see that your child’s grades are suffering, that he wants to stay home more and more or you are getting phone calls from the school nurse because he reports to her office more frequently, it’s time to sit down and talk about bullying.

It won’t be easy. But once you get him to open up and tell you what’s going on, you can start to dissolve the shame he is feeling and give him more strength. And, let’s face it: His physical well-being is at stake.

Help him understand that the bully is the one with the issues and that bullies rely on intimidation and fear to increase their self-worth.

Be a Great Listener

A parent’s first reaction may be to run out and confront the child and/or her parents. Stop, resist. That won’t get you anywhere and you will also be engaging in the same sort of behavior as the original bully.

Ask probing questions to find out if the bullying came with a physical threat. If it has, it’s time to take your approach a step further to try to mitigate the situation.

A physical threat needs to be communicated to school officials and even possibly the police. The last thing you want to do is not take something seriously and then physical harm occurs.

But a physical threat is only one aspect of this issue. The emotional scarring and psychological damage are as bad if not worse.

Practice Shame Resilience

Dr. Brené Brown has done a lot of research on shame and shaming behaviors and says that the biggest enemy of shame is to talk about it. If possible, have your child talk to some trusted friends to see if they have been bullied by the same kid. If they have, this may be the way they can band together and be a strong force against him or her.

Speaking Up

A very important component to bullying is the idea that your child needs to speak up if she sees someone else suffering at the hands of a bully.

Her first thought may be that she doesn’t want to become the bully’s next target but she will be every bit as culpable is she doesn’t speak up and try to stop it. It’s important to say something to another whether that is a teacher, parent or friend.

Tips for Kids

Tell your kids they can beat this. Suggest they use the buddy system when they are at school or on the bus and not to give in to their anger. Ignoring the bully will take some practice but eventually they will go away.

Have them talk about being bullied with an adult they trust at school like their guidance counselor. That’s what they are there for and it will help give them a support system at school when you aren’t there to talk to.

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