Cyberbullying: What you need to know

Cyberbullying is the newest form of bullying and one of the most complex because it’s constantly evolving and changing with new technology and social media sites, and it has no boundaries – it can reach a child anywhere, anytime, and its impact can be very serious and harmful.

Cyberbullying isn’t as obvious as other forms of bullying – your child could be a victim of a cruel website or Facebook page, have private photos circulating as a means to humiliate him/her, or could be receiving threatening text messages from classmates.

Cyberbullying can also include impersonating someone else online, posting embarrassing videos of a student online, or starting “text wars” – where several people email or text the victim, which can result in an emotional and financial toll.

Unless you are monitoring your child’s use of technology and watching for warning signs, you may not know he/she is a victim of a cyber bully.

Your child may be a victim of cyberbullying if he/she:

  • Unexpectedly stops using the computer OR spends an increased amount of time on it
  • Appears nervous or jumpy when they receive an instant message, text or email
  • Seems uneasy about going to school or going outside
  • Show signs of anger, depression or frustration after using the computer, receiving a text, etc.
  • Avoids discussions about what they are doing online
  • Becomes abnormally withdrawn from friends and family

Your child may be a cyber bully if he/she:

  • Quickly switches screens or closes programs when you walk by
  • Use the computer at all hours of the night
  • Gets unusually upset if he/she can’t use the computer or cell phone
  • Laughs excessively while using the computer
  • Avoids discussions about what they are doing online
  • Uses multiple online accounts, or one that isn’t theirs

There are several things you can do to help prevent or address cyberbullying in your home:

  • Encourage your child to not respond to cyberbullies – whether your child is a bystander or victim, he/she should not respond. This also means encouraging them not to “like” negative comments or pages that are targeting other students, or forwarding content that is targeting others.
  • If your child is a victim or witnesses cyberbullying, keep evidence. Hold onto those text messages, emails, photos, etc. as they could help identify the bully.
  • If your child is being threatened, harassed or being sent illegal content, contact the police and give them the details – include usernames of the bully, and any other identifying information you can collect. They will want to see proof, so show them all the evidence you collected.
  • Try to block contact from the bully by blocking their phone number, email or username (for example, Facebook allows you to block and report a user if they are engaging in activity that violates Facebook’s Terms and Conditions).
  • Contact your child’s school and let them know what is happening. Even if cyberbullying is happening at home, they should be made aware of the situation.
  • If the bully is identifiable and known to you, print off evidence of the attacks and contact their parents. They may be responsive, but may also be defensive. Show them proof and ask them to intervene.
  • Monitor your children’s online activity. For tips on how to do this, visit www.getsafeonline.org/safeguarding-children/safeguarding-children/ and www.thedoorthatsnotlocked.ca/app/en

Content adapted from www.cyberbullying.us/cyberbullying_warning_signs.pdf and www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/missing/i_safety/cyberbullying.htm

This information is also available in French, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and Punjabi.

If you are having thoughts of suicide or of hurting yourself or others, please reach out immediately for help. Call 9-1-1 (or your local police or authority, if you do not have 9-1-1) or go to your nearest hospital emergency room.

If you are being bullied, feeling alone or just need to talk to someone who will listen, please reach out to a trained volunteer or professional:



Resources for Parents

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Thank you for stopping by to check out the ERASE Bullying online reporting tool. This tool is accessible through computers and smart phones, and will allow students, parents or other witnesses to report bullying or other threatening behaviour, anytime and anywhere.

The online reporting tool has just been developed and is in the final stages of testing.

If you need help, please reach out to someone you trust, like a parent, friend or teacher. Or, you can reach out to someone who doesn’t know you for support. There is a list of youth-oriented support lines and websites on this site just for you.

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