Beat a Cyberbully: Here’s How Parents Can Help

While remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic lowered reported instances of bullying, parents fear that, for some students, going back to school will mean going back to being bullied.

The pandemic has only made pre-existing challenges more complex, prompting Southern California resident Julia and her husband Ben to be even more attentive to their 14-year-old daughter. 

Fifteen years after the inception of National Bullying Prevention Month in October, technology’s ever-greater presence in children’s lives has given bullying a new outlet. With just a click, cyberbullies can taunt, harass and threaten relentlessly, even reaching into the home via cellphone or computer. As a result, victims report feeling hopeless, isolated and even suicidal.

What can parents do to protect their kids? Taking an interest in their children’s online world can make a difference, said the National Parent Teacher Association.

This interest does not necessarily require parents to become tech experts. Instead, the federal site advises parents to watch for subtle clues that something is wrong, such as their child becoming withdrawn, hiding their screen when others are nearby or reacting emotionally to what is happening on their device.

Ben and Julia attest to the need to be in tune with their daughter, noticing if her mood is different than usual.

“Over the years we’ve worked hard to really know our daughter, know her personality, and know when something’s wrong so we can initiate the conversation more quickly and see what’s going on,” Ben said.

Talking with kids openly ­– and often – helps too.

“The more you talk to your children about bullying, the more comfortable they will be telling you if they see or experience it,” UNICEF stated in its online tips for parents.

As their two daughters enter their teens, Houston parents Thiago and Auboni have found that talking less and listening more works best.

“We try to focus on being approachable and listening actively without reaction,” Thiago said.

Beyond talking, listening and observing their kids, parents should not be afraid to make and enforce rules for online activities, experts say.

Thiago and Auboni’s girls are allowed to play online games, but they are expected to turn off the live chat feature to limit interactions with strangers.

“We reassure the girls that we trust them and respect their privacy, but they have to stay within the boundaries we’ve set,” Auboni said.

Computer and phone monitoring apps have also helped Ben and Julia maintain some awareness of their daughter’s time online without compromising her freedom.

“Some of those apps target cyberbullying and emotional issues, so we’ve used tools like that in the past to make sure nothing’s going on without us knowing,” Ben said.

Both families cited the tips and reminders they have considered together with their kids from free resources available on, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Many parents and children highly recommend one of the site’s short animated videos, “Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists.”

“These tools are so relevant. I think it puts kids at ease that they’re not the only ones dealing with these feelings and issues,” Julia said. “It’s changing and ongoing, so we always have to be on top of it.”

Submitted by Jehovah Witnesses