(This post is the first in our 5-part series about bullying.)
I just spent a day recently at one of my schools talking with students about bullying. These teens have heard anti-bullying messages since grade school, but they say that bullying is still common. Not surprisingly, they said cyberbullying has become the most widespread form of bullying.
As I remember, it was hard enough dealing with the regular stresses of being a teenager and the possibility of school-yard bullying. I can’t imagine agonizing even more over what people could be saying about me online, or what they could be texting to each other behind my back.
Cyberbullying is a whole different playing field. When you are bullied online, you aren’t face-to-face with the one attacking you and it can be harder to stand up for yourself. What’s worse, this type of bullying doesn’t go away when your kids come home from school, and this can make them feel even more trapped.
As we know, the internet is now a crucial part of teenage culture and that is not about to change. But how can you help your child avoid cyberbullying, either as a victim or as a participant?
- One of the most important things you can do as a parent is make sure that your teen has someone to talk to. Hopefully they will still come to you for advice, but the key is for them to have someone they can confide in, who will listen and build them up, and remind them that they are not alone.
- Talk to your teen about the “permanence” of the internet. If you wouldn’t say it out loud, don’t post it. Also tell him/her that once a comment has been sent, it’s in writing and they no longer have control over who will see it because it can spread very quickly.
- Remind your teen that words sent through text messages or email etc. can also very easily be misinterpreted even if they are meant as jokes, because you are not face to face with the person you are sending it to ,and they can’t always tell your tone of voice.
- If your teen is being bullied, keep the evidence. Someone can be criminally charged for posting harassing or hurtful messages online.
If you’re unsure where to start, there are some great PSAs on bullying. You can try one as a conversation starter tonight:
Ad Council of Ohio:
We’re also here to help. Call or send us an email, or please share your story with us. Let’s stand up to bullying together and keep the dialogue going. It’s a real issue in Halton.
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