My wife is an administrator/educator and at a middle school. Luckily at her school – there is a zero tolerance for bullying. It’s become the norm across the country. There are also as many stories published that the “zero – tolerance” policy doesn’t work. Nowadays, bullying in schools is hard enough to even tackle. Now, with the advent of social networking and social media sites our tweens and teenagers are hard pressed to stay connected online has opened the door to cyber-bullying. Today, in this ultra-connected world, our children have not only an e-mail account, but social media accounts and multiple ways of connecting to the internet. This is a very serious problem and it leads into another conversation of tools to monitor your children’s internet connectivity.
Cyber bullying is prevalent among 15 to 16 year old age bracket and more common with girls experiencing some form of bullying online compared to boys.
The National Crime Prevention Council notes some common forms of cyberbullying include:
- - Sending threatening emails or text messages
- – Blocking someone’s email or de-friending someone through social networks
- – Tricking someone into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to others
- – Creating websites to make fun of another person such as a classmate or teacher
- – Using websites to rate peers as prettiest, ugliest, etc.
The signs that a child is being cyberbullied vary, but a few things to look for are:
- signs of emotional distress during or after using the Internet
- withdrawal from friends and activities
- avoidance of school or group gatherings
- slipping grades and “acting out” in anger at home
- changes in mood, behavior, sleep, or appetite
Parents are urged to speak with their children about cyberbullying, as children are not likely to reach out for help. Teens are twice as likely to speak with a friend about the incident as they are to speak with their parents. For those experiencing any form of cyberbullying, it is important to take steps to stop it. Report the incident to a trusted adult.
Please keep the lines of communication open with your children.
National Public Radio – The Rise in Cyberbullying