The difference between school-yard bullying and cyberbullying is that once children leave the playground they're free from abuse. Online, children can be victimized at all hours of the day.
The most recent case in the news of a teenager committing suicide following alleged online abuse happened in North Battleford, Sask. Earlier this month, Todd Loik's mother, Kim, said he took his life after years of being bullied.
Warning signs your child might be a victim of cyberbullying
- Change in behaviour. For example, if your child is a good student but their grades begin to slip.
- A child that used to sit on the computer for hours, doesn't anymore. They're reading or watching TV instead.
- They aren't eating or are eating too much.
- They are missing items or their clothing is damaged.
- They are suffering depression and anxiety. They don't want to go to school.
- If they say, or write, dark things like, "I don't want to live."
(Source: Tina Meier, founder of the Megan Meier Foundation, an anti-bullying organization)
5 things parents can do if they think their child is the victim of cyberbullying
1. Identify if your your child appears to be unhappy, irritable or distressed, especially after using a computer or mobile phone.
2. Reassure your teen that you will not take away their phone or Internet privileges if they come to you to talk about cyberbullying.
3. Always be ready to listen to your teen and be their advocate. Cyberbullying can quickly escalate and requires swift adult intervention.
4. Always keep a record of emails, chat room history, web postings or phone messages that you can take to your Internet service provider or the police.
5. Always report cyberbullying to your child's school and to your Internet service provider. School boards have codes of conduct that include cyberbullying.