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Steps to Take If Your Child is a Victim of Cyberbullying

Steps to Take If Your Child is a Victim of Cyberbullying

Technology is a wonderful thing. The advent of the Internet, smartphones, and social media has made it possible for people to communicate with each other from almost every corner of the globe.

Unfortunately, there are those who choose to use this incredible ability for nefarious means, such as harassing and infringing on the rights of others. As a parent, you need to be aware of the fact that your child will likely face instances of cyberbullying at some point or another in their lives, and you need to know how to deal with it if the situation arises. If you know how to handle cyberbullies and other online harassment, you’ll feel much more at ease whenever your child connects to the web.

Teach Them Not To Respond

Just like real-world bullies, cyberbullies thrive on getting their victims to play back at them. Make sure your children know to never respond to an individual sending threatening or otherwise harmful messages to them electronically.

First of all, your children should know to never stoop to the bully’s level. If they do, they run the risk of saying something threatening themselves, and being just as guilty of cyberbullying as the person bothering them. Instill in your children the idea that they are better than that, and that the strongest action they can take is to simply ignore someone’s attempts at bullying them.

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Secondly, by ignoring the cyberbully, your child takes all the power away from the hurtful individual. If your kid is not willing to engage with the person on the other end of the exchange, then nothing the bully says will affect them.

Save Messages

However, they absolutely should save every word their bully sends them. Usually, there will be no shortage of evidence here, as the bully will continue sending messages – even if your child doesn’t say anything back – with the hopes that something they say will trigger a response.

Though copying and pasting these messages is efficient, it also may not “hold up” as evidence if the incident goes far enough to warrant legal action. The best course of action is to take screenshots of the actual messages, whether on the phone or computer, creating a true replication of the messages in question.

You should also document the time, date, and device on which the messages were received. Once again, if the harassment continues, you want to have as much evidence as possible in order for the authorities to be able to act on your complaint.

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Assess Threat

As an adult, you’re likely to take any threat to your child’s safety seriously. But you should also be able to assess the threats being made, and decide whether the person on the other end is truly putting your child in danger or not.

This isn’t to say that any amount of cyberbullying is OK. But there is a difference between one-off instances in which a classmate of your child called them a name, and ongoing harassment and threats of violence. Depending on the circumstances, you should know how to react and who to inform.

Identify the Perpetrator

There are numerous ways to figure out who the person on the other end of the line is, even if they try to mask their true identity.

If the cyberbully has been texting or calling your child, you can use reverse phone lookup services to at least discover where the phone in question is being used, as well as what service provider the user has.

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You can also use Google to search for screen names and determine if the person on the other end is actually pretending to be someone else.

Still, you may not be able to figure out who the perpetrator is, in which case you should definitely report the suspicious behavior.

Report Abuse

Depending on the severity of the incident(s), there are a number of channels you can go through.

The first step is simply to report the abuse to the service the bully is utilizing, be it Facebook, Snapchat, Kik, or Gmail. These service providers take cyberbullying seriously, as they want their users to have as enjoyable an experience as possible when using them.

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If you know who the child is, you might begin by informing their parents of the misdeeds. In less severe cases, this may be all that is necessary to combat instances of cyberbullying.

If the child attends the same school or district as your child, you may want to involve teachers and administration in order to curb possible instances of physical bullying that may occur on school grounds. Furthermore, school faculty are trained professionals, as well as mandated reporters. If they are witnesses to true bullying and abuse, they are required by law to report it to police.

If it comes to it, you might have to report the abuse to police on your own. By doing so, you allow them to complete a thorough investigation into the matter. At the very least, they will contact the perpetrator and warn them to cease their deeds. If the bullying continues, the police will be forced to take further action,

Assess Privacy

To prevent any of this from happening in the first place, or to prevent it from happening again, go through your children’s online accounts and ensure that their privacy settings are as restrictive as possible. Set their accounts so that those not approved or “friended” can’t view their profile or send them messages.

If it comes to it, you may want to delete your child’s social media accounts altogether. Though they may not be happy with the decision, they need to know their safety comes first, no matter what.

Featured photo credit: Flickr / Build Me Up – Photo Project [38/365] / love.lee☼ via farm7.staticflickr.com

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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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