Cyber Smart Series Pt. 2: How to talk to your kids about cyberbullying

Cyber Smart Series Pt. 2: How to talk to your kids about cyberbullying

WATCH: Cyberbullying can be incredibly harmful, even deadly, for those who are targets, but how prevalent is it in our schools? April Lawrence has part two of Cyber Smart: Keeping Your Kids Safe Online.


Royal Bay Secondary student Anthony Vieites was a target of online bullying in middle school that got so bad he had to switch schools.

“My dad went to the school, he talked to the principal, he dealt with the situation and he comforted me when I was in that sad time of my lifetime,” Vieites said.

He isn’t alone ? one in five young Canadians has been cyberbullied or cyberstalked according to Statistics Canada. For LGBTQ+ teens, it’s one in three.

READ MORE: Cyber Smart Series Pt. 1: Island teens discuss sexting and how common it is

“Probably the toughest thing about cyberbullying or just bullying is that some people hide it so well you just don’t what’s going on and you’ll never find out,” said Royal Bay student Alex Fraser.

Awareness about bullying, online and off, has been growing with pink shirt day over the past ten years. Many schools are also trying to be proactive with inclusion clubs and anti-bullying student groups.

And while cyberbullying isn’t actually as prevalent as some may think, the impact on young lives can be devastating.

“We do know that repeated and extensive bullying is associated with suicides. This is not a trivial problem,” said University of Victoria Psychologist Bonnie Leadbeater.

Leadbeater says cyberbullying can often be worse than face-to-face bullying because the abuse follows kids everywhere they go, but few will actually talk about. She identified some signs parents could look for.

“You don’t want to go to school, you become depressed. You’re stressed you try to avoid it, but you stay by yourself so you’re lonely,” she said.

She says opening up a dialogue about cyberbullying with your kids is critical

“Just asking your kids about it opens the possibility of having that conversation and saying if anything like that happened to you I would believe you know that right?”

And despite what they may have you believe, teens say they’re grateful to have adults to turn to for help.

“I feel like parents help kids grow and be strong. I feel like parents are just the best things that a kid could ever have,” said Vieites.

Certain forms of cyberbullying can also land you in legal trouble, particularly if the comments are threatening, defamatory, or aggressive.

“Under the criminal code, harassment, or things of that nature, uttering threats, those I think particularly with youth are taken quite seriously by prosecutors and charges will be laid when there’s evidence to support them,” said Victoria lawyer Christopher Mackie.

If your child is being harassed or threatened by someone online, the key is to save the conversation and go to school officials and police with the evidence.

Resources for students and parents:

ERASE Bullying: Online reporting tool

Kids Help Phone


April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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