Parents, children, and school administrators can take steps to stop cyberbullying before it starts or becomes worse. Here are practical steps to prevent cyberbullying.

By Pattie Fitzgerald
Monkey Business Images/shutterstock.com

It's hard to protect your child if you don't understand the problem with cyberbullying or see it happen. Parents need to be the ones their kids go to when something is wrong. However, parents are often the last ones to know about problems because their kids fear getting into more trouble. Here are practical tips to help parents, children, and schools prevent and stop cyberbullying.

How Parents Can Stop Cyberbullying

1. Keep the computer in a common area of the home. Do not allow it in your children's bedrooms. Monitor their online usage.

2. Learn how various social networking apps and sites work. Become familiar with Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Ask your children if they will show you their profile pages.

3. Talk regularly and specifically with your children about online issues. Let them know they can come to you for help if anything is inappropriate, upsetting, or dangerous.

4. Build trust with your children. Set time limits, explain your reasons for them, and discuss rules for online safety and Internet use. Ask your children to contribute to establishing the rules; then they'll be more inclined to follow them.

5. Tell your children not to respond to any cyberbullying threats or comments online. However, do not delete any of the messages. Instead, print out all the messages, including the email addresses or social media handles of the cyberbully. You will need the messages to verify and prove there is cyberbullying.

6. Don't overreact by blaming your children. If they are being bullied, be supportive and understanding. Find out how long the bullying has been going on and ensure that you'll work together to find a solution. Let your children know they are not to blame for being bullied.

7. Don't underreact by telling your children to "shrug it off" or just deal with the bullying. The emotional pain of being bullied is very real and can have long-lasting effects. Don't tease them about it or respond with a "kids will be kids" attitude.

8. Don't threaten to take away your children's phone or computer if they come to you with a problem. This only forces kids to be more secretive.

9. Talk to your school's guidance counselors so they can keep an eye out for bullying during the school day.

10. If there are threats of physical violence or the bullying continues to escalate, get law enforcement involved.

How Kids Can Stop Cyberbullying

11. Don't respond to any emails, app messages, or text messages sent by cyberbullies.

12. Don't be an accomplice by forwarding any of the messages to others kids.

13. Save, screenshot and print out all the messages as proof and evidence of cyberbullying.

14. If you are being bullied, tell an adult immediately to get help solving the problem.

How Schools Can Stop Cyberbullying

15. Adopt a zero-tolerance policy for all types of bullying. Make it clear that any intimidation, harassment, or threatening behavior will be dealt with swiftly and seriously.

16. School districts should have anti-bullying policies in place and everyone (school administrators, teachers parents, and students) should be aware of the policies at the start of every school year.

17. Incorporate Internet Safety Awareness classes into the curriculum.

18. Engage students, parents, and teachers in discussions about bullying prevention. Have student councils or student panels address the issue to their peers at school-wide assemblies, PTA meetings, and other school-wide events. Get everyone involved!

Adapted and reprinted from safelyeverafter.com, with permission of Pattie Fitzgerald

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