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Injuries happen: what you need to know about cyberbullying

One of the most difficult situations a parent can experience in life is to see one of their kids deeply unhappy. You may sense that something is wrong, but your 13-year-old daughter refuses to talk about it because they are embarrassed or don't want to be known as a tattletale. One of the more common reasons for these feelings is bullying.

Bullies used to hang around at playgrounds, schools and other public places where kids congregate. But the sad fact now is that bullying is often done online or via text. As with the more traditional method, it usually involves kids and teens. It can lead to a lot of anguish for a family, perhaps leaving a scar that can take a lifetime to heal. Sometimes the wounds never heal.

Where Does It Happen?

Cyberbullying can happen through online social networking sites like Facebook, via direct email or rumors spread via email. It can be posting embarrassing pictures or videos online, or even creating fake online profiles. These situations often arise with classmates at school, with the pictures being taken at school or being posted while at school.

How Is Cyberbullying Different?

It can happen anywhere or any time your child uses a computer or device. It can happen to your daughter looking at her phone in the back seat of your car as you drive or when your son is alone in his bedroom doing homework on his laptop. Whereas bullies in the past were well known in a community or social group, the modern day cyberbully can be anonymous, particularly to his/her victim. And once the attack has been committed, it's very difficult remove the evidence, thus leaving the evidence online for anyone to find.

What To Look For

There are several changes in your child's behavior that can occur in the case of cyberbullying. These including: not wanting to go to school, the use of drugs, alcohol or tobacco, a slip in grades, a general withdrawal into themselves, physical illness, or traditional face-to-face bullying.

Sometime a victim is so distraught that they attempt to or succeed in taking their life. It wasn't that long ago that police on Long Island were investigating the death of a 17-year-old soccer star who committed suicide because of cyberbullying. This unfortunately is not an isolated incident and the state of New York has had laws in place since 2013.

What Can You Do?

There are many great resources out there for more information, including Stopbullying.gov and loveourchildren.org. If cyberbullying is an unfortunate truth for your family, there is legal recourse. It is always a wise course of action to consult with an attorney if your child has been the brunt of this online cruelty, particularly if you have proof of who the perpetrator(s) is/are and your child has been injured.

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