Cyberbullying Tragedies Highlight Need for Parent Oversight: Experts & Cyberbullying Research Center Offer Tips

Oct 20, 2010, 13:03 ET from

ATLANTA, Oct. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- From daily news coverage of recent cyberbullying-related teen suicides to this month's 'Deadly Bullying' cover story in People magazine, the media is shining an intense spotlight on the problem of online harassment via email, text and social networks. Experts urge parents to take the opportunity to learn how to cope with the realities of digital persecution.

"The ability to spread rumors, innuendo, damaging personal information and outright lies online multiplies the potential damage over traditional schoolyard bullying, but parents should not overreact to the recent cyberbullying headlines. If they do, we will have an out-of-sight/out-of-mind situation when the headlines fade," said Forrest Collier, CEO of "Instead, parents need to learn prevention and response strategies in the same way that children learn about 'Stranger Danger,' as an everyday tool."

"The media attention surrounding high-profile incidents like the tragic suicide of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi has resulted in more students coming forward about their bullying and cyberbullying experiences," said Justin Patchin of the Cyberbullying Research Center. "Our research over the last five years shows that more teens are now telling adults about their experiences with cyberbullying. Now we just need to teach adults how to effectively deal with the problem once they are made aware."

To address the issue, and the Cyberbullying Research Center recommend that parents:

  • Refrain from immediately banning access to instant messaging, email, social networking sites, cell phones, or the Internet in general in the event of a cyberbullying incident. Forbidding access will fail to address the underlying interpersonal conflict, or eliminate current or future victimization. It also will likely close off a candid line of communication and promote overt defiance of the ban among children accustomed to frequent online access.
  • Educate children about appropriate Internet-based behaviors and the dangers of attacking others online, including getting in trouble at school or with the police as well as irreparably damaging children who are the objects of the ridicule.
  • Encourage children to report on cyberbullying incidents so that measures can be taken to stop the abuse and limit the psychological damage.
  • Monitor your children's online activities. This can be done informally (through participation and supervision) and formally (through software). Make sure to let your children know if you decide to use monitoring software, and understand that a software solution is only effective when used as part of a comprehensive approach that includes communication and education.

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About the Cyberbullying Research Center  

The Cyberbullying Research Center is dedicated to providing up-to-date information about the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of cyberbullying among adolescents. The organization's website at serves as a clearinghouse of information concerning the ways adolescents use and misuse technology. It is intended to be a resource for parents, educators, law enforcement officers, counselors, and others who work with youth, offering facts, figures, and detailed stories from those who have been directly impacted by online aggression as well as numerous resources for helping prevent and respond to cyberbullying incidents.