Although cyberbullying has been around for a long time, we are living in unprecedented times. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increase in students using digital platforms. In fact, it is not just the students’ personal use of technology, they are using digital platforms for educational purposes.
With this increased use of technology, students who are prone to bullying are likely to cyberbully.
Cyberbullying is a great concern, students who cannot sleep or who have completed their home studying may find additional screen time attractive and if the opportunity presents itself, cyberbullying can become one of their activities. Students will sometimes engage in cyberbullying because they are bored, lonely, or want attention. As a result, some students may be cyberbullying others to not only relieve stress, but also because they are bored. Cyberbullying feeds their need for attention—even if it is negative attention.
To complicate matters, when students are cyberbullied their support networks are limited. They can no longer stop by the School Counselor's office or talk to their teacher or coach about what is happening. And, they often do not talk to their parents about it. While there have not been any formal reports of an increase in cyberbullying, students suddenly have not discontinued their behaviors. If a student cyberbullied before Covid-19, there is no reason to think that he/she would stop now.
Bullying Warning Signs
Parents, caregivers and educators should be on alert for behavior changes and other signs that a child is being bullied. Signs may include:
- A decline in grades
- Unexplainable injuries
- A change in eating habits and sleep patterns
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
- Increased physical complaints (headaches, stomach upset, etc.)
- School avoidance, either physically in school or remotely
- Children experience self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, self-harm or talking about suicide.
What Parents Can Do
- Children should be taught that if they would not say something to someone's face, they should not say it to them online, through texting, or posting in any other way. Digital Harassment is the perfect way for the online aggressors to remain anonymous. Being anonymous, there is no fear of punishment because they don't have to come face to
- Communicate with your child. Let him/her know that it is okay to come to you if they are being cyberbullied. Encourage them to tell you immediately if they are being digitally harassed, cyberbullied, cyberstalked or if they have been approached by a predator. Tell them you will be angry about anything. You just want to help them.
- Be sure to keep your home computer(s) out in the open, such as a family room or kitchen.
- Encourage your child to alert you if he/she is aware of others who may be the victims of similar behavior.
- Explain that cyberbullying is harmful and unacceptable. Discuss appropriate online behavior and make it clear that there will be consequences for inappropriate behavior.
- Although it is important to install parental control filtering software, it is just as important for you to monitor your child’s computer. You want to respect your children’s privacy yet, your child’s safety may override these privacy concerns. Tell your child that you are not spying on them but you may review their online communications if you think there is reason for concern.
If you have an incident to report, you can make a report directly through our website Report a HIB Incident. Please take the time to read through our policies and procedures when dealing with HIB investigations. Please know that the counselors, principals, and district staff serve as resources for you to utilize should you have any concerns. I urge you to reach out to us to discuss these issues further or to assist you if you are concerned your child is either participating in, being targeted by, or witnessing these harmful behaviors.
Resources in school:
Kate Milazzo- School Counselor/ABS firstname.lastname@example.org
Tamara Guzman- School Counselor/ABS email@example.com
Debbie Nappi- District Anti-Bullying Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Jay Medlin- Principal of Memorial School email@example.com
Kevin Iozzi- Principal of Vetter School firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristoffer Brogna- Principal of Woodmere School email@example.com
Tiffany Boufford- Principal of Meadowbrook School firstname.lastname@example.org
Supervisor of Special Services