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Cyber Bullying | How to make sure it doesn’t happen to your child!

Recent media events have highlighted the issue of bullying. A Rutgers University student, for example, committed suicide a few weeks back due to being bullied over the Internet (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/29/dharun-revi-molly-wei-charged_n_743539.html ).Cyber Bullying Girl Crying

Bullying is nothing new. Older movies such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Pretty in Pink, and The Breakfast Club have all featured some form of bullying behavior. The key difference between bullying in the past and present, however, is in the level of anonymity – changes in technology have made bullying much more anonymous over time. Almost every child is on Facebook these days. Anyone can create an account, and the identifying information as to who “owns” the account can often be limited. The impact of cyber bullying has lead to a great deal of emotional harm as well as actual physical harm, as shown by cases like that of the Rutgers University student.

Tips to help decrease the likelihood of your child being “cyber bullied”:

1. You must closely monitor your child’s computer face time. Have a central location for the family’s computer. Keep it in a den or office room that is accessible for all family members.

2. Social media tools, such as Facebook, can serve as a great avenue for social relationships. They are not necessarily a bad thing, and you should not have your children completely avoid such avenues of socialization. However, if your child is using Facebook, it is imperative that you know your child’s login and password. Let your child know that you will be monitoring the Web site to ensure that nothing dangerous is there.

3. If your child is going to be on the site, you must be on the site yourself. Also, one requirement that you would have for your child is that he or she must be your “Facebook friend.” This way you can monitor what information he or she puts on the Web site and what information people are leaving for him or her.

4. If you suspect that someone is bullying your child, the first thing you should do is click the “Report this person” link on that person’s profile screen. This is done anonymously and will lead to an investigation to determine if that individual’s Facebook page should be censured. Also, ask your child to “de-friend” the person and find out what the situation with the bullying was about.

Bullying has always been around and likely will always be around in some format. With the changing of the times and vast improvements in technology, bullying can now be done anonymously and on the Web. Parents, you need not shelter your children from new technological advances; however, you must take these advances into account when you decide howyou monitor your children.

BULLYING AND SUICIDE. WHO’S FAULT IS IT AND HOW CAN YOU HELP?

According to a recent USA TODAY survey, one third of Americans are bullies or bullied at some point in school.  In addition bullying these days is most often done in groups and  through the Internet, which makes looking away much harder.

Why would a child bully?  Why would a child get bullied?  Behaviors are learned, which means parents and teachers have to teach intolerance.  We have to have ZERO TOLERANCE for mean behavior toward other children, or anyone for that matter, from a very early age.  I remember when I brought home my baby girl and my 2 year old daughter said, “I don’t like the baby”.   I answered, “yes you do, you love her”, and I made room on the other knee for the two of them to fit.    It’s easy for a child to bully out of jealousy.  As parents and teachers, we have to look out for those cues.  Stop the bullying and understand the reasoning to prevent it again in the future.  ZERO TOLERANCE.  It starts at home and shows up at school starting in the early grades.    Kids will fight, but they have to fight fairly and appropriately.   No demeaning behaviors.   Too many children are committing SUICIDE as a result of this bullying!  Children are now getting taunted on the “virtual playground” to such a harsh extreme that they are choosing to end their life.  We have to step in!

What about teaching protection of those being bullied? Yes, we have to teach that too!   That can start at home.  Teach your child to stand up for the one being bullied.  Explain to your kids that if they see bullying in school, on the playground or even on Facebook, to tell an adult.   As professionals (parents, teachers, principals), we also have to diagnose the bullies or bullied kids, and make sure they are getting the appropriate intervention they need that is causing them to aggressively taunt someone or to get teased themselves.  Maybe that “nerd” has Asperger’s syndrome or depression?  Maybe that “bully” has Oppositional Defiant Disorder or is being abused at home?    Taking care of our youth is not an easy task but someone has to do it!

If your child is being bullied or is possibly a bully him/herself, it may not be your fault, but it is your duty to step in and intervene!

What types of Behavior do you consider Bullying ones?

What actions are you going to take to help our youth?  We look forward to hearing your solutions!