Cyber-Bullying – What’s the Big Deal?

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Did you know that this month, November, is anti-bullying month?

Bullying itself is not new. Kids have been dealing with it at school and elsewhere for decades. It seems that most have their own story of how there was one person or group of persons that made their life miserable. Some would dismiss it as a part of growing up, say it builds character, or are convinced that it helps children learn to stand up for themselves. It’s just kids being kids and totally innocent, right?

The widespread use of technology has changed the playing field and the level of damage is escalating. In fact, the pain is so great that lives of young ones are being lost due to this new cyber-bullying. With ‘old-fashioned’ bullying, refuge could be found at home and, over time, many pains could heal. However, with so many kids having their own cell phones and using them almost 24/7, that refuge becomes close to non-existant.

Name calling, embarrassing photos, threats, rumors, etc. can be sent to dozens of classmates with one group text message. Oh, and there’s no time limit. These stinging messages can be sent over and over as long as the sender(s) has text and data left on their mobile plan or any access to the internet. It’s like a bad nightmare that the youth cannot wake up from no matter what they do or where they go.

Talk with your kids as soon as possible about bullying so they are neither the culprit nor the victim. Look for any odd uneasiness when it comes to school or their peers. Let them know you are ready to listen without immediately overreacting or ‘taking care of it’. Discuss together steps that your child can take themselves, such as not giving their number out to everyone and blocking some phone numbers of others to prevent unwanted calls and messages. Using a third-party app like Family Guardian will help to ease in more responsibility. We also try to warn our daughter from isolating herself when on her smartphone and to limit the time she spends on it.

We can’t prevent every bad thing from heading our child(ren)’s direction but we can do our best to support them when they do happen.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Bullying is so sad to me. One, it doesn’t end at graduation – there are some people who will always be bullies, but as adults, we ‘re better equipped to deal with it and understand our parent’s advice of “just ignore them.” But kids have trouble, because they can’t escape bullying and they’re discouraged from defending themselves.

    When I was a kid the “let’s meet after school” was tossed around and usually stopped bullying in it’s tracks. I’m not a proponent of violence, but I do think that the lack of consequences for bullying someone has helped it spin out of control. Social media has raised it an astonishing level.

    I grew up in a community when adults weren’t afraid to step in and take control when they saw kids misbehaving. Today, we turn our head and mind our own business. Teachers have had their power stripped away, parents aren’t in touch with all that they’re kids are up to, and kids are staying silent. It’s got to be frustrating for parents who want to protect their children and make sure they have a great childhood experience.

    I’m curious to see how bullying impacts kids as they grow into adults.

    • says

      Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. I definitely think it’s all spiraled out of control. Bully kids can turn into bully adults, then their kids think it’s normal. Plus, many parents are wrapped up in their own things and don’t notice anything until it’s too late. Plus, I have to admit, it’s even dangerous for adults to step in at times as some kids are plain scary!

    • says

      Very true. People tend to let go of any censure when it’s not face-to-face and it makes it much harder to catch/punish. I think parents have to really understand that things are MUCH worse than when we were young and kids these days have it tough!

  2. says

    This is a good post, my daughter got lightly wrapped up in one of these incidents over the summer. I told her to just take the person off of her text (block her) and quit looking at the phone and replying! That proved difficult for her…she wanted to send ‘just one more message,’ which of course fueled the fire of the person trying to bully her. It was all so unexpected (the girl had been her friend), and I understood my daughter’s desire to want to clear it up, but the pain inflicted (the girl doing the bullying pulled other ‘friends’ into the incident too) was real.

    She finally blocked her and that brought an end to it, but I can see how it could escalate, depending on the parties, and even turn into something physical (when parties again came face to face). It (cyberbullying) is def. a force to be reckoned with.

    • says

      I’m so sorry to hear that it affected your daughter…and over the summer too! It’s so great that you were able to work through it with her and now she’ll be better prepared if she sees signs of something similar happening. It’s amazing the 180 deg changes kids can take so that they even have to guard against childhood friends :(

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