To be a victim of a bully one doesn’t have to have a run-in on the playground or the lunchroom anymore. Did you know that children are now being bullied over the Internet? This type of bullying is becoming a more common occurrence in the lives of children these days.
Just what is cyber bullying? Cyber bullying is any type of bullying, name-calling, threats or implications of harm that occur over the Internet. This can be the result of an email or an instant message. According to I-Safe America, over 40 percent of children polled stated they had been a victim of a bully over the Internet and over 50 percent polled admitted that they had bullied someone over the Internet.
Why is cyber bullying growing in popularity? This type of bullying is growing in popularity, even amongst kids that would normally never think to call someone a name or be mean to someone’s face, because of the anonymity involved with it. Kids can make up a fake screen name and lash out or tease someone from the “safety” of the computer. In other words, it makes them feel invincible and a bit braver than saying or doing something to a peer’s face at school.
What can schools and parents do with this new type of bullying that is occurring? First, parents need to talk to their children about what is okay and not okay to do on the computer. Set boundaries and if the boundaries are broken, have stiff consequences that are followed through. Second, set up parental controls through your Internet provider. These controls allow you to do just that, control what your child sees and does on the computer at home. Third, if you worry about what your child is doing on the computer, keep the computer in a room in your house that everyone utilizes. Children do not need computers in their rooms.
If your child is a victim of a cyber bully, keep all messages that are being sent. Try to look for clues from your child, because chances are he may not tell you what is happening. Is your child depressed? Does he not want to go to school suddenly? Is he refusing to use the computer? If so, talk to your child and like I mentioned, save all clues. Be sure to contact the police and be sure to contact your child’s school. School’s need to be made aware that this is taking place, because it very well could carry over into the school.
What can a school do to help prevent cyber bullying? The school should have clearly set rules about computer use at the school and clearly set rules about children and what is expected of them when using the computer at home. By this I mean, it should be spelled out very clearly what will happen if any child at that school decides to use his or her home computer to bully another child from that school. Believe it or not, schools can and should implement rules for this.
Schools may even work closely with their local police department by bringing the police in for workshops about cyber bullying with both students during the school day and with parents after school hours. This can be very beneficial to both sets of people. Police are able to give detailed information about this type of bullying and what legal consequences would result from bullying someone over the Internet.
It seems to me that while technology is advancing so much and becoming so beneficial to our daily lives, we as parents, need to remember that it also adds yet another safety factor in our children’s lives. That makes parenting even tougher. Wanting to protect our children from things like a bully is a natural instinct, and it is important to remember that bullying can and does take place on something that we use daily: our computers.
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