Maybe it was a joke -- with a little too much of an edge. Or maybe it was an outright attack. When it comes to cyberbullying, you know it when you see it. And if your kid is the target, you'll want to do everything in your power to make it better. But as parents, teachers, school administrators, and even law enforcement officials wrestle with how to deal with cyberbullying, it's been hard to get concrete advice on what to do if it happens to your kid.
Everyone can agree that you don't want to make it worse. And while your kid may want to defend himself, it's best not to engage. The steps below can help kids defuse the situation, protect themselves, and hopefully put a stop to cyberbullying.
Sign off the computer. It's best to ignore attacks and walk away from the cyberbully.
Don't respond or retaliate. If you're angry and reply, then you might say nasty things. Cyberbullies often just want to get a reaction out of you, so don't let them know that their plan has worked.
Block the bully. If you get mean messages through IM or a social networking site, take the person off your buddy or friends list. You can also delete messages from bullies without reading them.
Save and print out bullying messages. If the harassment continues, save the evidence. This could be important proof to show parents or teachers if the bullying doesn't stop.
Talk to a friend. When someone makes you feel bad, sometimes it can help to talk the situation over with a friend.
Tell a trusted adult. A trusted adult is someone you believe will listen and who has the skills, desire, and authority to help you. Telling someone who fits that descriptions what's going on isn't tattling -- it's standing up for yourself. And even if the bullying occurs at home, your school probably has rules against it.