SMITH COUNTY — Bullying is a problem that many teens face, but it doesn't just happen at school. It could even happen in your home without you realizing it.
According to bullyingstatistics.org, about half of all teens have experienced cyber bullying at least once.
Detective Tim McDonald with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office said cyber bullying happens more often than parents realize and unfortunately it can take a very damaging toll on teens.
He said it could even lead to the worst-case scenario.
“Do we know that bullying and cyber bullying have played a huge role in suicide by teens? Yes,” said McDonald.
McDonald specializes in cyber crimes, that includes cyber bullying. He said, although it can be difficult for parents to know if their child is being harassed online, there are some warning signs.
“You can look at changes in behavior, especially when they get on their mobile technology, whether that be the cell phone, the tablet or the gaming device where they can still communicate,” said McDonald.
He said, if you want to keep your child safe from the dangers of the internet, you must stay proactive.
“There are third party apps that are available that will help parents monitor social media and text messaging,” said McDonald.
One of those apps is called Bark. It detects messages containing cyber bullying, sexting, signs of depression or suicidal thoughts. The application will alert the parent if any of these signs are found.
You can learn more about the app on the Bark website.
McDonald also said prevention doesn’t just start at home and that is why the Smith County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with the Children’s Advocacy Center to visit schools and educate teens.
“We train and teach kids about online and mobile device safety," said McDonald. "We teach them about cyber bullying and show them avenues to avoid those things and how to stop those things.”