Don’t Let Them Get the Upper Hand!
No longer relegated to the playground, the bus, the cafeteria, this bully can now work full-time before school, after school at targeting his victim. With just a few clicks, the humiliation can be witnessed by hundreds, even thousands of people online.
According to research conducted by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), more than 80% of LGBT kids experience cyberbullying defined as harassment of others using Internet, mobile phones or other types of cyber technology with intention to threaten or humiliate.
Because of modern technology’s ability to reach large audiences, cyberbullying is particularly invasive. We’ve all read about suicides of youths resulting from this non-stop form of bullying. In fact, gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.
Ways They Can Get To You
Boys tend to bully by “sexting” or with messages that threaten physical harm. Girls in general spread lies, rumors, expose secrets or exclude the victim from e-mails. The cyberbully can post pictures to embarrass or hurt, send threatening e-mails or text messages, dupes you into revealing personal information, pretends to be you online and can spread rumors, and all these insidious methods can be done anonymously.
So, what can a parent do?
- · Keep all computers in a common area of your house so you can see what’s going on. Monitor its use. Try to find out whom your child communicates with.
- · Have your child tell you if he/she receives a harassing message. She/he should not respond to any message or post. The cyberbully wants you to respond.
- · Online services can block or ban options. You can prevent communication by blocking the bully’s e-mail address, cell phone number, and deleting them from social media contacts.
- · Talk to your phone and internet provider. They can provide additional privacy settings.
- · Report activities to their internet service provider (ISP) or to any websites they use to target your child.
It’s Important to:
· Save evidence of cyberbullying such as a screenshot of a web page. Report them to a teacher or school counselor
· Report threats of harm and inappropriate sexual messages to the police. In many cases, the cyberbully’s actions can be prosecuted by law.
· Keep reporting every bullying incident. Although this is time-consuming, it’s a necessary step to stop the cyberbully.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.