My Son’s Cyberbullying Torment: How I Dealt

September 8, 2017

Any parent who has witnessed their child being bullied, and/or seen the effects which bullying has on their child’s wellbeing, knows how helpless a feeling it is. The heartbreak which you and your child experience on a near-daily basis is not always followed by a solution to the cyberbullying. Parents must know that there are ways they can help their child cope with a cyberbully’s persistence, hopefully resolving the problem once and for all.

 

 

What I Would Have Done Differently

Unfortunately, our family’s story does not involve the prevention of cyberbullying in my son’s life. By the time we discovered strategies to prevent cyberbullying, it was already too late. Our son had been grappling with the effects of being bullied on social media for months.

 

I cannot stress enough the importance of a proactive approach to fending off cyberbullies and teaching your child how to do the same. Several resources, including cyberbullying.org, helped educate us as to how we would approach cyberbullying had we been granted a second chance at prevention, versus merely combating an existing problem.

 

In my son’s case, a persistent classmate made a habit of rumor-spreading and embarrassing photoshopping as a means to inflict emotional harm on our child. Would we have monitored our child’s online activity more closely, inquiring about the mood changes which we only took seriously months after they first arose, it seems that much of the harm could have been prevented.

 

As recommended by TeachThought, we have begun to put drastic restrictions on our son’s use of technology, enforcing the notion that identity and self-esteem arise from one’s true personality, not their virtual interaction.

 

We have also spent more time as a family, letting our son know frequently that we support him unconditionally, and that our home is a place where he can speak freely about his problems without judgement. Helping our son realize that we, as parents, have dealt with bullies and have valuable advice on how to rise above is one of the most impactful tools in easing the burden imposed by one mean-spirited bully.

 

When We Found Out

 

For months, our son had been exhibiting behavioral changes which, at first, seemed like normal stages in being a teenager. However, as he began to hang out with his friends less, isolate himself in his bedroom, and display a consistently irritable attitude without any apparent reason, we knew that something was bothering him besides the typical growing pains.

 

Eventually, we sat him down for a serious discussion. After many tears shed and several refusals of his attempts to leave the conversation, we found out the truth. My own son had been dealing with a bully for nearly a year, with the torment becoming increasingly frequent and cruel. What had begun as vicious rumors and name-calling had devolved into doctored photographs painting our son in an embarrassing light, meant solely to shame him publicly.

 

Worse, our son had no understanding of why this boy had targeted him. He explained that the bully, at first, had primarily used the three types of microaggressions – microinsults, microassaults, and microinvalidation – to chip away at his self-esteem. Eventually, through words and the manipulated photos, the attacks became more overt, leaving no doubt that my son was his chosen target, and that the bully had no intention of letting up.

 

Our Journey to Peace

 

It has now been two years since our son was first bullied by this particular young man. We’ve been working with him to develop strategies for managing his bully and the anxiety that comes with each school day, though decreasingly so. For the first time in a long time, he’s actually looking forward to the school year starting.

 

By fostering a calm, communicative home environment, developing strategies to boost his self-esteem, and employing some professional help, our son has made great strides. Limits on his social media engagement have contributed to his more active social life, which has helped him further develop his identity while realizing he is well-liked, giving less credence to the bully’s baseless words and actions.

 

We reported the torment to school officials, presenting them with evidence which they used in a meeting between the boys. After a handshake and a promise that the torment would end – with the school promising consequences should it continue – the bullying has finally ceased.

 

Conclusion

 

Cyberbullying is happening, right now. Whether your child is a victim, perpetrator, or spectator, it is likely that they are currently familiar with at least one instance of cyberbullying. If your child does not seem quite right, consider that it may be due to cyberbullying. Even if they appear normal, take the time to sit your child down and ask: are you being cyberbullied? Are you a cyberbully?

 

The answer may surprise you, and if that surprise is due to their status as a victim, know that you can do more – communicate, regulate social media, and alert the school to the problem – than you may realize to put the issue to rest.

 

What I Would Have Done Differently

 

Unfortunately, our family’s story does not involve the prevention of cyberbullying in my son’s life. By the time we discovered strategies to prevent cyberbullying, it was already too late. Our son had been grappling with the effects of being bullied on social media for months.

 

I cannot stress enough the importance of a proactive approach to fending off cyberbullies and teaching your child how to do the same. Several resources, including cyberbullying.org, helped educate us as to how we would approach cyberbullying had we been granted a second chance at prevention, versus merely combating an existing problem.

 

In my son’s case, a persistent classmate made a habit of rumor-spreading and embarrassing photoshopping as a means to inflict emotional harm on our child. Would we have monitored our child’s online activity more closely, inquiring about the mood changes which we only took seriously months after they first arose, it seems that much of the harm could have been prevented.

 

As recommended by TeachThought, we have begun to put drastic restrictions on our son’s use of technology, enforcing the notion that identity and self-esteem arise from one’s true personality, not their virtual interaction.

 

We have also spent more time as a family, letting our son know frequently that we support him unconditionally, and that our home is a place where he can speak freely about his problems without judgement. Helping our son realize that we, as parents, have dealt with bullies and have valuable advice on how to rise above is one of the most impactful tools in easing the burden imposed by one mean-spirited bully.

 

When We Found Out

 

For months, our son had been exhibiting behavioral changes which, at first, seemed like normal stages in being a teenager. However, as he began to hang out with his friends less, isolate himself in his bedroom, and display a consistently irritable attitude without any apparent reason, we knew that something was bothering him besides the typical growing pains.

 

Eventually, we sat him down for a serious discussion. After many tears shed and several refusals of his attempts to leave the conversation, we found out the truth. My own son had been dealing with a bully for nearly a year, with the torment becoming increasingly frequent and cruel. What had begun as vicious rumors and name-calling had devolved into doctored photographs painting our son in an embarrassing light, meant solely to shame him publicly.

 

Worse, our son had no understanding of why this boy had targeted him. He explained that the bully, at first, had primarily used the three types of microaggressions – microinsults, microassaults, and microinvalidation – to chip away at his self-esteem. Eventually, through words and the manipulated photos, the attacks became more overt, leaving no doubt that my son was his chosen target, and that the bully had no intention of letting up.

 

Our Journey to Peace

 

It has now been two years since our son was first bullied by this particular young man. We’ve been working with him to develop strategies for managing his bully and the anxiety that comes with each school day, though decreasingly so. For the first time in a long time, he’s actually looking forward to the school year starting.

 

By fostering a calm, communicative home environment, developing strategies to boost his self-esteem, and employing some professional help, our son has made great strides. Limits on his social media engagement have contributed to his more active social life, which has helped him further develop his identity while realizing he is well-liked, giving less credence to the bully’s baseless words and actions.

 

We reported the torment to school officials, presenting them with evidence which they used in a meeting between the boys. After a handshake and a promise that the torment would end – with the school promising consequences should it continue – the bullying has finally ceased.

 

Cyberbullying is happening, right now. Whether your child is a victim, perpetrator, or spectator, it is likely that they are currently familiar with at least one instance of cyberbullying. If your child does not seem quite right, consider that it may be due to cyberbullying. Even if they appear normal, take the time to sit your child down and ask: are you being cyberbullied? Are you a cyberbully?

 

The answer may surprise you, and if that surprise is due to their status as a victim, know that you can do more – communicate, regulate social media, and alert the school to the problem – than you may realize to put the issue to rest.

 

Laura Pearson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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