MyNews4.com -- As kids head back to class, parents should be on the lookout for bullies. Not just at school, but anywhere there's a computer or cell phone.
Cyber bullying is a growing problem that has been very harmful for some children so we wanted to show you how to tell if your child is a victim and what you can do about it. Bullying, it's an age-old problem on the school yard, but now cyber bullies are following kids into places that used to be safe havens. Many parents may not be aware of attacks happening at home. "One of the big problems is parents didn't grow up with this because it wasn't there then." Says psychiatrist Dr. Heywood Zeidman.
But with computers and cell phones now, a child can be bullied anywhere. And when a nasty rumor, picture, or video makes the round on a social networking site, the psychological impact on kids can be devastating. "Kids think, 'my god, the whole world knows. They've all seen it.'" Dr. Zeidman says there are some warning signs your child may be a victim. Effects can range from low self-esteem, missing class, dropping out of school, or worse. "We've certainly all heard the news things about kids who try to kill themselves or do kill themselves because of cyber-bullying." Parents need to pay attention, talking with their kids and be sympathetic. The first thing to do with a hurtful text or email, delete it.
"Do not respond back. Bullies like nothing better than somebody who fights back because then they think, 'ah ha! I've got em, they're really upset.' leave it alone." And in many cases, you can block cyber attacks electronically. In most cases, victims know the bully. And Doctor Zeidman says if parents are having trouble dealing with the problem, they should report it to their child's school.
News Four called the Washoe County School District to see if they want to hear about cyber bullying that may be happening outside school. Katherine Loudon with the district says "Absolutely yes." They want to be a resource for parents handling the problem because it affects academics and a student's overall welfare. She said if someone is being cyber-bullied they need to tell an adult immediately. A parent, if they are at home and a teacher or counselor if they're at school.
Before deleting anything parents should make a copy if you can, of the email or post. If it's a text message the cell service provider can help with text records. Don't respond or let your child respond to a bully --that often engages them. Keep those records and get in touch with the school especially if it's another student doing the bullying. The WCSD has a section on it's website about bullying and cyber-bullying. Just click on parents and safe and drug free schools. We've provided a link to that website on ours