Organizations say rise in cyberbullying likely during COVID-19 isolation

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- The Mental Health Association of New York State (MHANY’S) held a webinar Wednesday on cyberbullying for parents, caregivers, and educators. They say an increase in cyberbullying is likely as technology is the main form of communication right now for children and teens.

The Cyberbullying Research Center agrees. They say feelings of loneliness, lack of mental health counseling and mentoring from teachers are all likely to lead to an increase in cyberbullying.

One of the challenges of recognizing cyberbullying as children/teens struggle to adjust to a new normal is determining if changes in mood or behavior are due to inability to be with friends or cyberbullying.

The best thing parents and caregivers can do is maintain open communication, says MHANY’s Director of School Mental Health Resource & Training Center, Amy Molloy. She also says statistics indicate children/teens who experienced bullying in the past are more likely to be cyberbullied. LGBTQ students are almost three times more likely to be cyberbullied, Molloy says.

Signs of cyberbullying in children/teens

  • changes in sleep pattern
  • aggressiveness
  • changes in mood ie. being withdrawn

Parents worried about cyberbullying through social media platforms should familiarize themselves with the website/apps. In many cases, platforms like Facebook offer resources for parents worried about bullying, says Molloy.

New York’s Dignity for All Students Act requires schools to have a plan in place to educate students on bullying and provide a safe learning environment. Molloy says schools are adjusting current policies to accommodate remote learning. School policies vary by school district. Molloy says parents/caregivers should reach out to their district for that information.

MHANY’s webinar Youth Cyberbullying: From Understanding to Prevention is available on their website. To watch the webinar viewers must complete a short registration form. Parents/caregivers who suspect their child/teen is the victim of cyberbullying can find ways to stop the abuse on Commonsensemedia.org.

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