Over the years, we have written about bullying in the age of the internet and social media. In the age of the coronavirus, however, cyberbullying has become even more prevalent. During the first year of the pandemic, school took place online, and with that, cyberbullying cases increased dramatically.
L1ght, an organization that analyzes online hate speech and toxicity, reported a 70% increase in hate between kids and teens online during the first few months of the pandemic. The Cyberbullying Research Center collected data from studies that showed overall bullying decreased tremendously from 2019 to 2021. However, the students from these studies also reported 22.6% more encounters of cyberbullying than previous years.
Cyberbullying is generally easier to do than face-to-face bullying because the online aggressor does not have to reckon with the presence of another human being. Therefore, the repercussions on the aggressor for bullying online aren’t as immediate or intense. Also, cyberbullying often takes place via private messages or online environments where adults aren’t around to intervene, making the incidents more difficult to detect and take action against.
An elementary school teacher from North Carolina recommends knowing your child’s passwords, and if you walk in on your child clicking out of windows or shutting off their phone, take the device and find what they have been accessing. Also, take the time to sit down with your child and talk with them about what to do in cases of cyberbullying, so they are more likely to call upon you when in trouble.
National PTA recommends talking with your kids about the difference between in-person friends and friendly online strangers. They also recommend helping your kids understand the difference between tattling and reporting. Tattling is sharing information for the sole purpose of getting them in trouble. Reporting is sharing information to keep someone safe. Whether your child witnesses someone else getting bullied or is getting bullied themselves, they need to understand that it is okay to ask for help and important to stand up against hurtful behavior.
Anti-bullying campaigns can be a powerful strategy to help combat bullying because they aim to shift toxic culture among children and show all children that bullying is not tolerated or okay. For the kids who do experience bullying, anti-bullying campaigns at least send a message that their community cares about them. National Block It Out Day is a campaign that calls everyone to block out the negative messages we receive either passively or directly on the internet and, most notably, reject cyberbullying. National Block It Out Day, created by nonprofit STOMP Out Bullying, is observed on November 14, 2021.
As a parent, you can’t always be there when your child is facing a problem. If school policies, school staff, anti-bullying campaigns don’t help to stop the cyberbullying your child is experiencing, then you need to find some way to remove your child from the situation. Maybe that means removing your child’s access to certain online platforms or social media. It could also mean changing schools. While that may seem like a mere reaction rather than a solution to the larger problem, your child deserves to spend their time at school in a healthy atmosphere. School choice is the most viable option.