Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My daughter was cyberbullied last year and now it’s happening again. Someone is threatening to expose my daughter’s “sexting” to her boyfriend. The anonymous bully is demanding sex from her, but she doesn’t know who he is.
More messages revealed my daughter’s suicide threats.
Now she regrets the sexting to her old boyfriend. She said she wishes she was dead because it’s going to ruin her life.
Her friends said everything from “Don’t be so dramatic” to “I would want to die, too.”
I’m so anxious. I didn’t know she had a boyfriend. I don’t have the know-how to look into other things on her phone.
What do I do besides have anxiety attacks?
We understand you’re anxious, however, now is the time to be strong for your daughter. She sounds suicidal. Take her to a professional, now.
A new report states the suicide rate among 15- to 19-year-old girls has doubled in the last few years. Teen boys also had a 30 percent increase in suicides.
Cyberbullying is hard to detect because of its secretive nature. It flies under the radar of parents and teachers. Teens have ways of hiding their behavior with new technology everyday.
It would behoove you to enroll in phone technology classes (often given by your phone carrier).
You may want a therapist to help you with your anxiety.
Cyberbullying is insidious and happens 24/7 and 365 days a year. Here are some tips to protect your daughter:
• Don’t allow her to go to school with a phone.
• Don’t allow nighttime usage by letting her sleep with her phone (often a “charging” excuse will be thrown at you; you charge it).
• Have frequent talks about suicide even when she doesn’t act like she wants to talk — she will ultimately feel your love and care for her. It’s a myth that talking about suicide will cause suicide.
• Talk about hopes, dreams, ideas, and not people, as good examples of communication.
Tell her to report, report, report (until an adult does something constructive) the following bullying behavior that’s happening on her social media or in person:
• Mocking, labeling, name-calling;
• Gossiping and being ignored;
• Being blackmailed (look at our Blackmail Bully column online); and,
• Being manipulated to do things you don’t want to do.
Technology is here to stay. But bullying and suicides don’t have to be.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri