Abuse is Not Impossible: 10 Signs of Cyber Bullying
Although the Internet is home to information and technology, it is also home to the worst kinds of human beings possible. The anonymity that the Internet offers can serve as a screen to many shady characters, from would-be criminals to playground bullies that still want a piece of their victims. Cyber bullying is just a modern method of embarrassing those who cannot retaliate, humiliate those who cannot speak up for themselves, threaten those who are too young to respond, and even intimidate those who do not want to answer with force. Cyber bullying, like your run-of-the-mill playground bullying, is a means of control.
It is therefore in the best interests of parents to keep their children from being bullied online… but how would you know if your child is not telling you the entire story? Here are a few signs that you might want to watch out for if you are worried that your child is being bullied on the Internet.
1. Does your child spend long hours on the computer?
Cyber bullying is not only about someone being threatened, it is about the lesser power trying to speak up but at the same time, it is the lesser power being unable to tear itself away from the greater power that is intimidating it. Cyber bullying may result in your child staying for a much longer time online, where he or she tries to answer or speak up, but is unable to.
2. Does your child close his or her browser or mail windows immediately when you enter the room?
This can be a sign that your child is hiding something. It can be anything from pornography to coming abuse, so whether or not it is cyber bullying, this is a sign that you may want to watch out for. Children will not keep secrets unless they are extremely sensitive, so if you notice this kind of behavior in your child, you may want to coax him or her to talk.
3. Is your child evasive when you ask about his or her Internet activity?
If you ask your child about his or her surfing, is he or she evasive, mousy, shy, even defensive? Then something might be happening behind the scenes, and you should be more vigilant.
4. Is your child’s history folder always cleaned out and clear of files?
If your child is into cleaning out a history folder all too frequently, then you may have reason to be suspicious. History folder cleaning is of course a good way to keep your computer up and running well, but if it happens too frequently, then your child may be hiding something. Again, it might not necessarily be cyber bullying, but you may need to be all the more vigilant.
5. Is your child less attentive in school, or is he or she getting behind with requirements at school?
Cyber bullying, like ordinary playground bullying, can affect your child’s schoolwork. If you are suspicious, ask your child’s teacher to observe your child at school. This can be especially suspicious if your child has always been attentive at school or active in school.
6. Are your child’s grades falling?
Although such a phenomenon can mean anything, falling grades may be a sign that something is happening behind your back. Be all the more suspicious if your child is getting good tutoring and is still lagging behind; or if your child is suddenly unwilling to learn when he or she was like a sponge just weeks before.
7. How are your child’s eating habits?
A sudden change in your child’s dietary habits may signal some emotional trauma. If your child is not being bullied at school, then something might be happening online that you might want to turn your attention to. If your child is losing his or her appetite, which is relatively more common in children who are suffering from bullying, then you can certainly let the warning signals start ticking off.
8. Does your child complain frequently about stomachaches?
Any emotional disturbance can translate into physical disturbances, so watch out for this kind of complaint.
9. Is your child openly fearful, especially when friends are brought up?
Cyber bullying can traumatize your child, and any kind of friendship may be difficult to sustain. Watch out if your child seems paranoid.
10. Is your child emotionally distant?
When your child loses his or her drive to make friends and socialize, he or she may have an extreme fear of humiliation or rejection. This may or may not be brought about by cyber bullying, but you may need to be more affirmative and supportive of your child at this point.
These are only a few tips and signs that you need to watch out for. For more information, talk to your child’s teacher or the school guidance counselor.
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