COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The signs of bullying are no longer as simple as a black eye or a busted lip.
Cyberbullying is the type of bullying that you cannot see and it's becoming more prevalent.
The statistics surrounding cyberbullying are alarming. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, twenty-five percent of teens report they've been cyberbullied repeatedly.
Girls are more likely than boys to experience cyberbullying and a staggering 87 percent of teens and tweens have witnessed cyberbullying in some form.
Despite the rise in digital harassment among children and teens, only 15 percent of parents are in the know about their kids' social networking habits.
"If you have a child and they're missing a lot of school or they're talking about stomach complaints and the doctor has sort of checked them out," licensed psychologist Dr. Fred Medway said. "The possibility of bullying, and it could be cyberbullying, needs to be on every parent's radar screen."
Medway is a distinguished professor at the University of South Carolina and works with children who have behavioral issues. He also specializes in family counseling. He advises parents foster an open, direct and accepting line of communication without being overbearing.
Medway also talked about the hierarchy of bullying. He said generally, bullies have a social network of supporters, while those who are bullied, tend to lack a network. That's where parents can step in.
"You have to have a good communication network with your child. You need to set limits and boundaries, and you need to communicate with them to show care and concern," Medway said. "You need to do your best to engage them and make sure they have friends."
Because cyberbullying takes place behind the anonymity of a computer screen, it's important for parents to be aware of some important warning signs:
- skipping school
- avoiding social activities like clubs and sports
- misbehaving or fighting in school.
Those might be indicators that a child is being bullied.
For more resources on how to respond if your child is being cyberbullied, visit the links below:
- Cyberbullying Research Center: http://cyberbullying.org/what-to-do-when-your-child-is-cyberbullied
- ConnectSafely: http://www.connectsafely.org/cyberbullying/
- Stomp Out Bullying: http://www.stompoutbullying.org/index.php/information-and-resources/parents-page/tip-sheet-how-understand-and-handle-cyberbullying/