Social_Media_PosterTHINK FIRST — A participant in the Sheffield Place anti-bullying program created this poster, stressing the need to "THINK" before posting content on sociail media.

Most Kids Won’t Tell Their Parents If They Are Being Bullied

Kids seem to always be plugged into the digital world. They’re constantly looking at their screens—on smartphones, laptops, tablets.

So, what might cause some kids who are usually tuned in to suddenly want to tune out text messages and social media posts? What would make them cringe each time their cell sends them a new notification? What could prompt them to just shut off their phones or computers?

A kid being cyberbullied probably isn't going to tell you what’s wrong. You’re going to have to notice the signs—ask questions.

See The Signs

About four in 10 kids have been bullied online. But only one in 10 kids who’ve been targeted by cyberbullying will tell their parents or another trusted adult.

While a kid might suffer in silence, chances are her behavior will indicate something is wrong. (Girls are more likely than boys to be cyberbullying victims.)

  • She unexpectedly stops using her computer or cell.

  • She appears jumpy when receiving a text or e-mail.

  • She doesn’t feel well on school days—would prefer not going to school at all.

  • Reading something on her device angers, frustrates or depresses her.

  • She withdraws from friends and family.

  • She doesn't want to hear or participate in discussions about technology or social media.

Furthermore, kids being cyberbullied are more likely—just like a kid being physically bullied—to use alcohol and drugs, receive poor grades and skip school, have lower self-esteem and develop stress-related health problems.

Distraugh Girl Being Cyberbullied

Talk About It

If you suspect your kid is being cyberbullied, ask. Don’t put off talking to them about the signs you’ve seen and be direct: “What’s wrong?”

But also be patient. Your child may be evasive and feel angry, embarrassed, betrayed, confused, fearful and vengeful. Don’t try to bully answers out of your child now, when the cyberbullying might have her already believing she’s all alone or “everyone is out to get me.”

Just ask your kid to be honest. When she says, “Nothing’s wrong,” calmly explain to her the changes you’ve seen. Coax the truth out of her: “I’m glad you’re not on your phone all the time, but now you seem to never be on it. And when you get a text you seem unhappy about it. What’s going on?”

Be Proactive

And be proactive. Have the talk with your kids at a young age—about cyberbullying, about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior online.

There are several other steps you can take:

  • Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media platforms. Ask another trusted adult to do so as well.

  • Talk to your kids about the sites they visit online and for a list of their passwords, which you would use only in an emergency.

  • Know the school’s cyberbullying policies.

  • Installing parental control and monitoring software on your kids’ devices is also an option.

  • Teach your kids how to block people on their social media accounts.

  • Be sure they understand anything they post online is essentially forever and to not talk to strangers online.

  • Encourage your kids to build strong friendships—to spend time with their friends and not just engage them online. Thes friendships could prove invaluable to helping your kids cope with being bullied.

  • And get to know your kids’ friends. Ask them to tell you if anyone should start bullying your kids.

The Numbers

  • 87% of kids have witnessed cyberbullying.

  • Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online. One in four victims have been cyberbullied more than once.

  • Only one in 10 victims will tell a parent or trust adult about their abuse.

  • 81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person.

  • 15% of surveyed students admit to bullying others online.

  • 24% of kids report that they do not know what to do if they are harassed online.

  • About 75% of students admit they have visited a website bashing a classmate.

  • 39% of children do not enable their privacy settings on social media.

  • One out of three kids feel they are more accepted on social media networks than in real life.

  • 72% of cybebullied children indicated that they were targeted because of their appearance.

  • 26% of victims were bullied due to their race or religion.

  • 22% of victims believed they were harassed due to their sexuality.

  • Girls are more likely at 41% to experience cyberbullying than boys (28%).

  • 30% of children who have been cyberbullied have suicidal thoughts, with 10% actually attempting to take their own lives.