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.