Learning that your child is being cyberbullied can make you feel angry, hurt, scared—or, if you have your own experience with bullying, it may even trigger your trauma. It’s important to respond calmly rather than to react in a negative way. Try not to respond until you’ve had time to process your emotions. This can help you think more clearly and figure out an appropriate response.
Listen, connect, gather information, pause
Empathise with your child—they may be hurt, frightened and angry. Let them know that these feelings are normal. Gather information about the severity of the bullying. Does it exist in a peer group or is it more widespread? Collect any screenshots of the cyberbullying to show what’s been happening. Reassure your child that once you’ve had some time to think, you will come together again and talk through some options. If they feel like they need to talk in the meantime, let them know you are there.
Stay connected to family, trusted friends and activities
These are the things that will remind your child that they are loved and lovable.
Show that you care
Check in with your child from time-to-time about how they are going. Keep an eye on their eating and sleeping habits, their ability to concentrate and make decisions and their overall mood. if you notice any marked, sustained changes, seek help from a psychologist or other mental health professional.
If your child is being threatened, or if they indicate a wish to harm themselves, they need to be protected. Call the police immediately if their physical safety is at risk. If you see the marked changes in behaviour, get help. A good place to start may be your child’s school, which is likely to have a policy in place to help manage the issue. Cyberbullying can be reported to the social media service and complaints of serious cyberbullying can be reported via our online complaints form.
Talk over the options
Help guide your child in their decision making rather than telling them what to do. Wherever possible, try to empower your child, and help them to make wise decisions for themselves. If you feel they may be struggling to open up to you, Kids Helpline can also provide confidential advice and support.
The Internet speeds everything up, including the bullying process. Online, people can reply from anywhere, immediately. Slowing down your own response times will encourage your child to at least slow, or stop, their responses too.