Cyberbullying has become an epidemic. It leads to isolation, depression and suicide. Below are ten ways Detective Sgt. Tom Rich you can help your teen prevent cyberbullying.
1. Educate yourself: To prevent cyberbullying from occurring you must understand exactly what it is. Research what constitutes cyberbullying, how and where it occurs, and talk with your friends about what they are seeing and experiencing.
2. Protect your password: Safeguard your password and all private information from inquisitive peers. You don’t want to give bullies the opportunity to post false/private/embarrassing information or pictures on your social media pages or send them to the whole school through email.
3. Keep photos PG: Before sending a racy photo of yourself to a peer or posting it online, consider if this is something you would want others to see, especially your family. Bullies can use this picture as ammunition to make your life miserable.
4. Pause before you post: Don’t post anything that can compromise your reputation. People will judge you based on how you appear to them online, and like point #3, bullies can use it as fuel.
5. Raise awareness: Bring awareness to cyberbullying whether it be through a movement, a club an event or campaign. Knowledge is power.
6. Setup privacy controls: Restrict who can see your online profiles to only trusted friends.
7. “Google” yourself: Every once in a while search our name on all major search engines and see if any personal information or photos come up. If you find something that can be used by cyberbullies to target you, take action and have it removed.
8. Never open messages from people you don’t know: Delete all messages without reading them from people you don’t know, as they could contain viruses and infect your computer. The same goes for messages from known bullies. It is best to not engage and ignore them.
9. Don’t be a cyberbully: remember the phrase your parents instilled in you as a kid “treat other as you want to be treated”. If you are mean to others online, it reinforces the idea that that kind of behavior is acceptable.
10. Log out of your accounts on public computers: Similar to not sharing your passwords, don’t give anyone the slightest chance to pose as you or to share false information. Also, by staying logged in, you run the risk of the bully changing your password and locking you out for a period of time.
Detective Sgt. Thomas Rich, is currently a certified police officer in the State of New Jersey and has been a DARE instructor for the past 10 years. His most recent endeavor includes being a part of the development team for the new app STOPit. STOPit was built for both consumers and school districts and allows students to report cyberbullying anonymously to school officials and local authorities.