Forty-three percent of kids in the United States are bullied online. Psychiatrist Morgan Feibelman and Brian Klebba, Assistant Attorney for the United States Department of Justice, discussed this astounding fact as well as tips for prevention and response at the forum hosted by the Junior League of New Orleans' Member Education Committee.

According to the United States Department of Justice, one in five children per year receive an unwanted sexual solicitation online. One in 33 children per year receives an aggressive sexual solicitation. Over 50,000 predators are currently on the Internet actively seeking out children.

“The United States Attorneys Office Eastern District of Louisiana is committed to aggressively implementing programs and targeting those who would harm children in order to provide a safer environment for all children in today’s ever expanding and complicated world,” said Brian.  

Brian’s office believes that the goal of the educational components of the program is to raise the public’s awareness about the threat and prevalence of online sexual predators and to provide the tools and information to educators, parents, and children to help reduce the likelihood of harm to children and to assist law enforcement in their investigations through the reporting of incidents involving minors.

The Project Safe Childhood (PSC) consists of 5 components: 1) expansion of partnerships between federal, state, and local law enforcement in prosecuting child exploitation matters, identifying, rescuing and assisting child-victims; 2) continued participation in national initiatives; 3) expanding federal involvement in child exploitation investigations; 4) training of federal, state, and local law enforcement; 5) community outreach and education.

JLNO Membership Council Director Lesley Davis thought the event was very informative.

“I really enjoyed the different aspects of cyber-bullying that were presented. We were provided with information regarding general safety tips; including how to identify potential sex offenders, how to recognize signs that your child may be a cyber-bullying victim and how to properly handle the situation if they are and also what to do if your child is the cyber-bully,” said Lesley.  

Dr. Feibelman is board certified in psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry, and he gave the audience tips on recognizing bullied behavior in their children. 

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS text and apps, or online via social media, forums or gaming where people can view, participate in or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting or sharing negative, harmful, false or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else that causes embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.

“Some of the warning signs that a child may be involved in cyberbullying are: noticeable, rapid increases or decreases in device use, including texting, a child exhibits emotional responses (laughter, anger, upset) to what is happening on their device, hiding their screen or device when others are near, and avoids discussion about what they are doing on their device, social media accounts are shut down or new ones appear, starts avoiding social situations, even those that were enjoyed in the past, becoming withdrawn or depressed, or loses interest in people and activities,” noted Dr. Feibelman.

The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:

  • Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter
  • SMS (Short Message Service) also known as text messages
  • Instant Message (via devices, email provider services, apps and/or social media messaging features)
  • Email

Protect your child from harmful digital behavior:

  • Monitor their social media profiles, apps, and browsing history if you have concerns that cyberbullying may be occurring.
  • Review or re-set your child’s phone location and privacy settings.
  • Follow or friend your teen on social media sites or have another trusted adult do so.
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest apps, social media platforms, and digital slang.
  • Establish rules about appropriate digital behavior and content.