Isn’t It Time, We As Individuals, Put A Stop To Cyber Bullying on Children?

negating others social media I find the recent publicized death of the 12-year-old girl secondary to cyber bullying by her peers, nothing but troubling. I know these types of events aren’t new but why are we adults not looking for more aggressive solutions?  Is it because it doesn’t directly affect us or our families, therefore, we can ignore it? Should we place an age limit on when children can actually access the internet and/or use social media? Sounds like a task beyond our reach but on the other hand, how many unnecessary deaths can we justify because of our lack of interest?

Are we as adults not parenting our children, but rather more concerned with providing our kids with what we perceive as a mere mode for them to be popular with their friends–technological communication/social media? Do parents not realize that their young children have age-limited social skills yet expect them to act as adults with adult toys and know how to manage the consequences? We all know that cyber-bullying is nothing but abusive, inappropriate behavior that will typically harm its unprepared victims.

Help Site.Org, a non-profit organization, (Help for Cyber-bullying) posts their mission definition; “Cyberbullying occurs when a child or teen uses the Internet, emails, text messages, instant messaging, social media websites, online forums, chat rooms, or other digital technology to harass, threaten, or humiliate another child or teen. Unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying doesn’t require physical strength or face-to-face contact and isn’t limited to just a handful of witnesses at a time. Cyberbullies come in all shapes and sizes—almost anyone with an Internet connection or mobile phone can cyberbully someone else, often without having to reveal their true identity. Cyberbullies can torment their victims 24 hours a day and the bullying can follow the victim anywhere so that no place, not even home, ever feels safe, and with a few clicks the humiliation can be witnessed by hundreds or even thousands of people online.”

Children being cyber bullied will most likely demonstrate certain behaviors, which parents need to be aware of and address immediately if and when portrayed by their children. Warning Signs posted by Help Site.Org are behaviors such as “1)Becomes sad, angry, or distressed during or after using the Internet or cell phone.2) Appears anxious when receiving a text, IM, or email.3) Avoids discussions or is secretive about computer or cell phone activities. 4) Withdraws from family, friends, and activities they previously enjoyed. 5) Suffers an unexplained drop in grades. 6) Refuses to go to school or to specific classes, or avoids group activities. 7) Shows changes in mood, behavior, sleep, appetite, or shows signs of depression or anxiety. ”

If we as parents note any of the aforementioned behavior changes in our children, its time to take action. The site goes on to say that ‘If you are targeted by cyberbullies, it’s important not to respond to any messages or posts written about you, no matter how hurtful or untrue. Responding will only make the situation worse and provoking a reaction from you is exactly what the cyberbullies want, so don’t give them the satisfaction. It’s also very important that you don’t seek revenge on a cyberbully by becoming a cyberbully yourself. Again, it will only make the problem worse and could result in serious legal consequences for you. If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online.”

If is evident that your child is a victim of cyber-bullying, Help Site.Org recommends “1)Save the evidence 2)Report evidence/events to the appropriate authorities such as the police 3)Be relentless in options 1 and 2 and lastly 4)Prevent cyber-bully communications through appropriate choices (reporting ISP, blocking emails/websites etc.)”

Decades past when raising my children, I will admit that I didn’t have to worry about cyber-bullying, but bullying was still an evident issue, even during those times. We as parents, were able to directly address any such issues with the child, his or her parents and teachers.  We were fortunate in that this team approach usually nipped or stopped the incidents. Unfortunately, this is not an option with cyber-bullying, full well knowing that the perpetrators can hide and typically perform their acts behind one’s back; a rather cowardly method in my opinion. I firmly believe that as parents, we need to increase our own awareness of this issue, as well as HAVE to be VIGILANT AND ACCOUNTABLE, especially if we allow our young children the privileges of social media, of which they are not age appropriately ready for.

 

 

 

 

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