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How to Bully-Proof Your Child
by Nicholas Pell
Bullying has moved into the digital age. And while it's mostly the same as when you were a kid, there are two big changes.
First, anonymity makes bullying easier to engage in. From behind the safety of a computer screen and a false identity, it's easier than ever to make your kid's life miserable.
Second, digital bullying is harder for parents to spot than real-life bullying.
So how do you make sure your kids are bully-proof when they go online?
Know What Your Kids Are Doing Online
If you don't know what social media accounts your kids have, it's harder for you to see bullying when it happens. What's more, a child is far less likely to tell you about bullying on an account they're keeping hidden from you. Establish open dialogue with your kids about their accounts. The more you know, the more you can help them prevent bullying.
Set Rules for Social Media Use
The other side of the communication coin is setting clear rules. Tell them what social media sites they're allowed to use and establish boundaries for that use. For example, you might not want your kids to use their full name, post photographs of themselves, or even add new people without your permission. Setting rules for your kids on social media allows you to talk openly about security settings, an important component of protecting your kids from anonymous bullies on social media.
Social Media Security Settings
Social media security settings are critical. You can easily make it so that your kids' profiles are visible only to friends. Shielding them from strangers is one of the best ways to protect your kids from people who they haven't expressly approved as friends. When setting up security settings, you should also have a talk with your kids about the importance of keeping their passwords secure.
Know the School Rules
Many schools have now adopted rules for social media use and prohibitions against bullying that apply outside of school walls. Make sure both you and your children understand the rules that apply to social media use and bullying. That way, your kids will know that they have the support of the school administration if they are targeted.
Let Them Know What to Do If They Are Bullied
Finally, talk to your kids about what to do if they are targeted. It's not anyone's favorite topic, but you need to discuss it. Knowing what to do in the event that they become victims -- who to tell, how to respond -- will give them the confidence they need to speak to you when the problem first occurs, not when it's been going on for weeks and they're at the end of their rope.
Parenting: "How to Bully-Proof Your Child"