Tips to navigate cyberbullying ahead of the school year

Published: Aug. 26, 2020 at 7:54 AM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Cruel messages, nasty comments and sharing photos are just some things students may experience with cyberbullying.

Between surfing the web to exploring the newest social media app, many teens and children are constantly on their devices.

With more students opting for an online learning approach, parents are encouraged to keep tabs with how they’re interacting with others to prevent cyberbullying.

A report by L1ght shows since the pandemic began, there’s been a 70% increase in hate speech between kids and teens in online chat rooms.

In addition, said cyberbullying can happen through social media, texting, online chat groups, or email.

As a parent or guardian, there's help for your student.

Horry-Georgetown Technical College cybersecurity professor Stan Greenawalt said to talk with your students. He also suggests reaching out to the school about any problems.

Greenawalt added a big difference between bullying and cyberbullying is the evidence being literally at your fingertips.

“You’ve got all the evidence so when you talk to the parent or counselor, you’ve got evidence,” he said. “Sometimes it will be so bad they are gonna be embarrassed to share that evidence, so I think it’s good to let the parent be involved and let the parent be your mediator to present all these facts.”

Greenawalt said it’s also important to be proactive in these situations.

The problem with cyberbullying is teachers might not notice any signs because it’s not happening in classrooms. Completing a report is up to the student, and it’s important they tell parents and the school about the problem.

But Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson said since children aren’t in school, they may have a hard time sharing if it happens.

Cyberbullying is unique because it can be persistent, permanent, and hard to notice, said.

If your student is experiencing cyberbullying or you know of another student who is, Richardson said you need to bring it to the people in charge.

“I would tell any parent out there or any teacher if cyberbullying is going on and you find out about it, then let the proper people know,” he said. “We are in the situation now where we have hired new people, we have got some new things set up to address it. We can cover the county a lot better than the county last year.”

Richardson said they’ve hired two new officers to work with the person over security.

He also says if students are going back for face-to-face learning, faculty will have closer eyes on them because they won’t roam around due to COVID-19.

Also, experts with Education Dive said something to help your student is turning the cameras off.

Right now, a lot of people are using video conferences to speak whether it be for a business meeting or class. Education Dive suggests having students turn their cameras off so they can avoid having another student share photos of them with others.

Another piece of advice from Greenawalt is to check-in with your student.

Students may be afraid to disclose they’re being bullied, so Greenawalt says it’s important to know what exactly your child is viewing.

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