#cyberbullying | #cyberbully | Parents, authorities worry about rise in cyberbullying as students shift to virtual learning

Online safety is a big concern as students across the state head back to virtual classes.

We already know the risk of online predators rises as virtual learning gains popularity, but families and authorities are also concerned about a rise in cyberbullying.

It’s no secret your child may spend more time in front of a screen than ever before this school year.

“There is always a risk anytime a child is online or really anytime anyone is online, just because you are opening yourself up,” said Tammy Bracewell, assistant social sciences professor at A&M Central Texas.

Leaving access for anyone to be able to track you down through phone, tablet or computer.

“And that opens up a world of opportunities for kids to, you know, find ways to attack each other,” said Waco ISD student Izabel Weaver.

Having experienced cyberbullying herself, Weaver worries about how that kind of harassment could impact virtual learning.

“I absolutely think it could cause an increase,” she explained. “So it’s still just scary.”

Julian Martinez is the child safety coordinator for the Killeen Police Department. He says cyberbullying is already a major issue outside of the virtual classroom.

“Cyberbullying is a big thing. It’s everybody’s issue,” explained Martinez. Nationally [it’s] one of the biggest things out there. It would be your number one thing occurring in society when it comes to kids.”

However, there is a way for parents to get involved.

“And listen to your children. I think that is your primary mission as a parent, listen to your children. How is this affecting them? What are they doing? The tools there block that bully. Block them through your device,” said Martinez.

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