What parents and children should know about the torment of cyber bullying – and how to stop it.The Internet Gives Bullies New Weapons
Some eighth-grade girls stole a makeup case from a new classmate, and she reported them. Then insulting, taunting instant messages started popping up on her computer screen. She responded in defense, which only made things worse. Email messages, blogs, and cell phone texting make bullying publicly humiliating with just a few clicks. The technology allows users to inflict pain without seeing its effect, thus fosters even more meanness than the old-fashioned face-to-face bullying. We need to protect kids from kids.
Bullying is the “intentional and generally unprovoked attempts by one or more individuals to inflict physical hurt and/or psychological distress on one or more victims.” – per the US Department of Education (“Exploring the Nature and Prevention of Bullying”)
Bullying, in general, may be a single physical attack or spreading rumors and social exclusion - with ridicule being the most common form. Cyber bullying uses websites, email, and cell phones to harass victims.
often consider it cowardly to report bullying (and worsen their already
low status among peers) and teachers and parents often disregard it
anyway, which allows bullies to carry on.
Listen to your child and watch for warning signs of the effects of bullying: unusual behavior and class performance. Victims are often scared of leaving home – especially of going to school. Stopping bullies begins at home, and schools must properly respond as well.
See more about the "Bystander Effect" at Bystander Apathy.
In order for schools to control out-of-school student speech, it must likely cause a "substantial disruption" to in-school activities. Parents and students must report the bullying. Even if the facts do not legally support school regulation of online bullying, a good faith report will alert a school to a potential problem which needs to be addressed.
If your children text, TextEd.ca is a translator. TextEd helps “educate youth about how to use technology respectfully and know what to do when someone crosses the line." The site also has a unique "Acronictionary" for texting acronyms:
TextEd also has lesson plans for teachers about safe texting practices.
But do your kids really need the Internet on their cell phones for texting (or “sexting”)? Check with your carrier to see if you can disable this service. After all, you are the parent!
Letting your kids freely wander the Internet is like letting them freely wander outdoors like the endangered Free-Range Kids.The Internet frightens parents who aren’t web-savvy, and they’ll hurt their kid’s futures if they stop them from using it. The Internet is a crucial tool to help with your child’s homework and other valuable searches.
• Just like in the real world: always know what your children are doing online.
• Put the family computer in a common room.
• Use filtering programs so your children can't access questionable websites.