BY Doug Gross

Editor’s note:

Bullying is in our schools, and it’s online. Why do kids do it? What can be done to put an end to it? Don’t miss an “AC360°” special report in collaboration with PEOPLE Magazine, “Bullying: No Escape,” all this week at 10 p.m. ET on CNN.


— As cyber bullying emerges as a nasty and easy supplement to traditional schoolyard taunts, a raft of online tools have come on the market to help parents prevent it or respond to it.

But experts say common sense parenting and simple awareness about the potential for trouble might be some of the most valuable tools to prevent damaging electronic harassment.

The most simple way to start? Get involved in your child’s online life. Then stay out of the way.

Michael Fertik is CEO of ReputationDefender, which offers free and paid online tools designed to monitor what’s being said about you, or your child, on the Web.

As children are first showing interest in social networking sites like Facebook, parents should ask for their passwords before giving permission, he said.

“It’s very much age-dependent,” he said. “There’s a narrow window of about two years in which most kids are willing to give their parents their passwords. Younger than that they’re not really on the social net and older than that they’re going to find a way to get it done without sharing a password.”

As they move into their early teens, kids are going to balk at password-sharing, he said. So parents should look to become their “friend” on the sites — then, importantly, stay quiet about it.

Read about CNN’s weeklong coverage on bullying

Because, honestly, what teen wants mom making a chipper comment about their angst-ridden status update or dad spamming their wall to remind them to take out the trash.

“If parents are letting their kids play on a playground with a bunch of other kids, they aren’t going to want their parents right in there playing with them,” said Justin Patchin, a criminal justice professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eu Claire and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. “But knowing they’re at arm’s reach, or watching over them in kind of a hidden way, is not that bad.”

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.