How to Spot Cyberbullying & What to Do About It

By Katie Murray, MFTC Intern

Cyberbullying occurs on a variety of online platforms, from social media apps to chat websites.

The Impact of Cyberbullying

At least 59% of adolescents in the United States have experienced some form of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying occurs on a variety of online platforms including social media apps, chat websites, and even in school-monitored settings. Actions such as hurtful name-calling, spreading false rumors, stalking, and receiving physical threats are just a few of the bullying behaviors that adolescents may be experiencing.

It is important for parents and teachers to recognize certain behavioral changes or signals that a child may be experiencing bullying by their peers. Since adolescents tend to shut down or disconnect from activities they enjoy when issues are arising, it is important to address the behavior and help the child find resources that will stop the bullying. Using school resources to aid in prevention is another great way to ensure risky situations will not break out in a school setting.

Below are some warning signs that may suggest online bullying is occurring, signs a child may be a bully, and actions you can take to have comfortable conversations with your child.

Source: Pew Research Center

Warning Signs for Online Bullying

  • Child turns off the computer monitor, or changes screens every time you walk by.
  • Child seems nervous when a text message, email, or social media notification arrives.
  • Child alludes to bullying by stating things like “there’s a lot of drama at school” or “I have
    no friends.”
  • Child suddenly stops using the computer or phone, even though they have always
    enjoyed it before.
  • Child becomes withdrawn.
  • Loss of interest in favorite hobbies or activities.
  • Child suddenly seems depressed or anti-social.

Warning Signs a Child is Bullying Others

  • Getting into physical or verbal fights frequently.
  • Increased level of aggressive behavior towards family members.
  • Blaming others for their problems.
  • Getting sent to detention or the principal’s office often.
  • Not accepting responsibility for their actions at school or home.
  • Has multiple social media accounts that they are maintaining.

How to Address Cyberbullying with Your Child or Student

  • Talk with your student about what bullying looks like and how they can safely stand up to
  • Ask questions about experiences with bullying they may have witnessed in school or
    heard about from other people.
  • Create an action plan with your child about safe adults and other support systems that
    they can turn to if needed.
  • Know who to contact at school to address concerns about bullying behaviors.
  • Document harmful posts, comments, or text messages your child may have received if
    reporting becomes necessary.
  • Consider helping your child block the person who is bullying them via online platforms.
  • Practice using positive self-statements with your child to maintain positive self-esteem.

For more information about the various types of bullying your child may be experiencing and to learn how you can help prevent bullying, visit

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