Cyber-Bullying | In Your Face… book!

Cyber-bullyingWe have always heard stories about kids saying unkind things to others. Remember reciting "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me"? Never did I imagine I would become nostalgic for that.

Unfortunately as media and technology have become more sophisticated so have those who hurl insults at others. In times past, bullies simply spread rumors person to person. Then they went virtual, moving insults to email messages and texting. Now they're leveraging the Social Mediasphere (Facebook, My Space, Twitter, etc.) and the hurtful content is out there for all to see.

It seems that nothing can or will be held back by the kids who are out to belittle another student. Fabricated stories are published online, photos are shared with the world, no matter how personal, hateful, or illicit they may seem. Hardly a month goes by that we don't hear about the child who took his or her own life as a direct result of such harassment.

What can parents do? Nearly every child has a cell phone or computer. It is our job as parents to oversee what kinds of messages are being sent and received. This is not a matter of being nosy or invading our children's privacy; it is simply a way to know if they are involved in either cyber-bullying or sexting. (sending inappropriate pictures by text on one's cell phone, which can then be distributed online).

Talk openly with your children. Let them know that you are current in your understanding of these issues. That way, you establish credibility as a savvy parent. The more your children, especially adolescents, know you can relate, the more likely they are to share thoughts, opinions, and concerns with you.

Get involved. Recent cases of suicide due to cyber-bullying covered in the media have opened a lot of eyes. As a result, parents, community leaders, school officials, and clergy have jumped into the mix to urgently address the issue.

Finally, keep on top of the issue. As quickly as bullying jumped into cyberspace, it is likely that it will continue to morph into new formats over time.

What will that look like in future years? Share your thoughts and any predictions...

Tags: safety, education trends, parenting, communication, emotional issues, behavioral issues

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