Blue Suit Mom

What to Do When You Learn Your Child Has Cyber-bullied

By Mary Kay Hoal

When you first find out that your child has been involved in a cyberbullying incident as the perpetrator, your emotions can be overwhelming. You might feel shock, denial, embarrassment, and anger towards your child. Although these feelings are normal, they need to be put aside, as your first responsibility as a parent is helping your children learn from their mistakes. You will be successful at doing just that by holding your children accountable for their actions and making sure they understand the consequences of those actions.

Understanding the consequences of cyberbullying is critically important because:

  1. While laws vary by state, a cyberbullying offense can result in academic expulsion and/or misdemeanor/felony charges, depending on the severity of the case.
  2. You, the parent, may find yourself sued for libel due to your child’s online actions.
  3. Consequences help your child learn valuable life lessons.

It’s important for your children to know that you are there to help them learn from their mistakes. To help rectify the situation:

  1. Your child needs to apologize to the victim in person. Go with your child so he knows he has your support.
  2. Next, your child needs to apologize to the parents of the victim.
  3. If any other child was involved in the same cyberbullying incident, then both you and your child need to alert the other parents so they are aware and can respond appropriately.
  4. Your child should delete the offensive material that was shared and post an apologetic comment instead.

In parallel with your child’s actions, it’s important that you:

  1. Implement a family technology contract or agreement, if you haven’t already. This will help your children understand that there are rules related to their use of technology and consequences for breaking any of those rules.
  2. Limit your children’s use of technology for a while. Let them know that technology is a privilege, not a right. They are obligated to learn how to become responsible digital citizens.
  3. Remind your children that it is never, ever okay to be disrespectful, hurtful, or mean to another person, online or offline, and that such behavior won’t be tolerated.
  4. Use monitoring software so you can be alerted to and aware of any concerning online or cell phone activity. This will allow you to be proactive versus reactive.
  5. If the school is aware of the incident, let them know of the action you and your child have taken.
  6. Finally, give your child a hug. Remind her how much you love her. Let her know your first job is to be her parent and that you’re there to help her rectify and learn from her mistakes.

Mary Kay Hoal is a nationally recognized expert on children’s social media and online safety. She is the founder and president of Yoursphere Media Inc., which focuses on the family and publishes the kids’ social network—sign your kids up today! Mary Kay also offers parents Internet safety information at She has been profiled on CNN, BBC, E!, Fox & Friends, TIME, Lifetime TV, and many other media outlets. Mary Kay is a contributor to ABC’s 20/20 as their family Internet-safety expert. For more information visit

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