Unfortunately, a sexually abused child may become the target of bullying, cyberbullying or a cyber predator. Bullying consists of numerous activities including physical, verbal and social behaviors. The following section covers the definition of bullying, signs of bullying, effective ways to help your child and tips for safely using social networking sites.

Florida has some of the strictest anti-bullying laws in the nation. In addition, the Florida legislature has shown its commitment to making schools a safe place for students by passing the Jeffrey Johnson Stand Up for Students Act.


As defined by Olweus (2001), “A student is being bullied or victimized when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more students.” Bullying consists of numerous activities including physical, verbal and social behaviors.

How do I know if someone is bullying my child?

  • Physical injuries (for example, unexplained bruises and scratches)
  • General unhappiness
  • Reluctance to go to school (often accompanied by vague excuses to stay home)
  • A decline in academic performance
  • Getting into trouble more often at school
  • Moodiness, withdrawal, tension and tears after school or after being with friends
  • Talk of hating school and having no friends
  • Torn clothing
  • Refusal to discuss what’s happening at school
  • Major changes in relationships and friendships with others
  • Time spent with a peer who seems mean or abusive

How Parents and Caregivers Can Help

Let your child know you do not blame him or her for the bullying. Only the bully is to blame.


Cyberbullying is somewhat similar to traditional bullying, except it only occurs through the tools of technology such as e-mail, instant messaging, game sites, chat rooms or social networking sites. It includes digital messages or images sent to a cell phone.

Unlike traditional bullying, only one act of cyberbullying is needed to affect a child’s life. In Cyberbullying Through the New Media: Findings from an International Network, Peter K. Smith and Georges Steffgen state, “a single act by one perpetrator may be repeated many times by others, and experienced many times by the victim.”

There are warning signs that may indicate that your child is experiencing cyberbullying. Your child may appear depressed or withdrawn, or not want to go to school. He or she may begin to avoid social activities and may seem upset or angry after being on the phone or computer. Your child may also become obsessed with checking their messages or social networking sites because he or she may be worried about what other individuals might be posting.

How Parents and Caregivers Can Help


A typical child is engaged in social networking for an average of 44.5 hours each week. According to Lauren’s Kids, Don’t Miss the Signs in a Digital World, one in five minors are sexually solicited online; in 82% of online sex crimes against minors, the offender used their social networking site to gain information about them. Sadly, one in five teens has electronically sent or posted nude or seminude pictures of themselves online.

While children may understand social media and social networking better than any adult in their world, most adults know that nothing online is private and that every detail children post can be used against them. Talking to your child about the dangers of social networking as a means of sexual exploitation is the best defense.

How Parents and Caregivers Can Help