Child psychologist says cyberbullying cases may be doubling during remote learning

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Child psychologist: Cyberbullying cases on the rise during remote learning
Experts say cases of cyberbullying may have doubled among students going to school virtually.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Experts say cases of cyberbullying may have doubled among students going to school virtually.

"Behavior like this can't keep going on and on," said Andrea DiFonzo, a Northeast Philadelphia mom who says her high school daughter is a victim of bullying on Snapchat, a popular messaging and photo-sharing app where posts are meant to disappear after they're viewed.

"When this happens, kids see these images online or hear these again and again and again, so it's like they're being repeatedly traumatized," said Dr. Stephen Leff, a child psychologist and co-director for the Center for Violence Prevention at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

He says it's important parents look out for signs their kids are being bullied, like headaches, stomach aches, and children getting upset while playing a game online.

"The fact that they're home more and have less access to friends makes it even worse, and that's why I think it's really important as parents that we open lines of communication, and ask our kids how their days are going," he said.

The School District of Philadelphia has resources about cyberbullying on its website and updated form for parents and students to report it.

"We rolled this out, all of these initiatives virtually, we also focused on - a great deal - mental health for students and making sure we have virtual supports for our students," said Rachel Holzman, the deputy chief for the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities for the School District of Philadelphia.

DiFonzo says after she told the school about the incident, the district held a restorative discussion for the involved students, but her daughter still dreads going to school.

"I also want my daughter to not feel so isolated and alone when she's already feeling isolated and alone and by going to school virtually," she said.