What should you do if your own child is the target of cyberbullying? Today I’d like to offer just a few suggestions to get you started with a healthy response.
First of all, don’t respond. That sounds weird doesn’t it? Shouldn’t you or your teen fight back? The fact is that the “win” for an online troll is to engage you in a war of words. To type anything in response online gives them an instant victory. There are other ways to respond offline, but it’s best to just ignore an online response.
Next, save the messages. This will come in handy when you are seeking help. Take screenshots or keep a folder of all the messages that are being sent. The temptation is to just delete it so it goes away. But many cyber bullies are persistent and you might have to seek outside help to get it to stop. If you save the messages it will be much easier to help others understand what your teenager is going through.
Another great tip is to teach your teenager to protect their passwords. One type of cyberbullying is through hacking. The bully hacks an account and then proceeds to post embarrassing content towards another person. Help your teenager understand this and teach them to change their passwords regularly to protect their accounts.
Finally, don’t place the blame on your teenager. If your teen is being cyber bullied, they are a victim. Don’t use this time to tell them everything they did wrong to put themselves in this position. This is a time to comfort them and advocate for them. You can teach them how to prevent this from happening again at a later time when things have calmed down.
If your teen is being cyberbullied, you might have to seek outside help to stop it. But there is something deeper going on that as a parent you must be aware of: your teenager is experiencing what it’s like to be hated. Use the experience for good; help your teen understand that broken and hurting people sometimes respond to their pain by causing pain for others. Although this makes absolutely no sense, it’s a fact of life. This probably won’t be the last time they experience something like this in their life. These experiences are also great opportunities to teach your teen about forgiveness.
Jesus knew that when evil is returned for evil, more evil is created. That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 5:39, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”
At some point the evil behavior has to stop, and that’s when a person becomes truly powerful. Choosing to forgive instead of taking revenge reflects the character of God.
Parents, thank you for loving your teen and I just want to encourage you to keep pressing on! These are difficult days for teens and their families, but our God is our ROCK! Lean on Him and know that this is only temporary! He has an incredible plan for your teen, and for you!! Please let me know if there is anything I can do to pray for your family!