Q&A: Cyberbullying

Answer: Cyberbullying is a very serious issue and can be detrimental to a child's well-being. A suggestion for parents of online students would be to first contact the school and ask them about their policies regarding bullying among classmates. In many instances, this information may be provided to you upon enrolling in school.

Many virtual schools participate in online discussion forums as well as live sessions with the teacher. The teacher should be monitoring posts in the forum and if inappropriate comments are made, it would be the teacher and/or administrator's responsibility to immediately contact the child and his or her family. At that point, it would be up to the school's discretion which disciplinary issues would occur.

As a concerned parent, you may want to also take part in monitoring your child's activity online, whether it is participating in a live discussion forum or sending messages to other classmates. Many young students are new to posting messages and schoolwork via the Internet, and need to acquire the proper skills and etiquette associated with participating in a cyber world. If you do see inappropriate comments before the teacher has been made aware or worse yet, your child is being bullied, I would contact your child's teacher immediately. Hopefully, at this point the situation will be handled, and if not, I would then suggest contacting the school administrator.

It is always a good idea to be a proactive parent and to have discussions with your child regarding his or her responsibility while posting anything online. By having these open discussions with your child, you can help prevent your child from becoming a bully online. Additionally, parents should also encourage their own children to report instances should one of his or her classmates become a target of cyberbullying.

Christi WilsonChristi Wilson is a credentialed teacher of highly-gifted students in Northern Nevada. She has 11 years of classroom teaching experience, a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in education leadership, and has even taught K-12 education online. A mother of three busy boys, she knows how important it is to keep students engaged in the classroom and interested in a lifetime of learning.