Between recently watching the PBS Raising Girls program and reading about Phoebe Prince last week, my mind has been on cyberbullying. I’m subsequently grateful to PPLM Parent Education Program Manager Amy Cody, who today shares helpful information, tips, and resources for parents regarding cyberbullying:
From Amy Cody via The PPLM Parent Buzz:
In recent years, technology has given children and youth a new means of bullying each other. Cyberbullying, or online social cruelty or electronic bullying, can happen through use of emails, instant messaging, text or digital imaging messages sent on cell phones, web pages, chat rooms, or blogs. Cyberbullying can involve sending mean, vulgar, or threatening messages, or posting sensitive, private information about another person. It is a fast and easy way of distributing information and can be done anonymously.
Parents often lament that they can't keep up with the technology their children are using. However, parents are also the number one line of defense against cyberbullying and the number one resource for a child who has been bullied. A strong parent-child relationship is the best way to identify and help a child who has been cyberbullied, or to prevent a child from engaging in cyberbullying behavior.
Changes in your child's behavior are a clue that he or she may be the victim of a cyberbully. Most children are reluctant to tell their parents about cyberbullying. The most frequently given advice is for parents to take note if their child:
How Parents Can Prevent Cyberbullying
According to Parry Aftab, Executive Director of WiredSafety.org and an authority on cyberbullying, parents can draw on their "old-fashioned" knowledge of how to deal with the schoolyard bully to help in dealing with a cyberbully. Aftab suggests common sense prevention tips such as:
As parents, it is important for us to explain to our children that the words they send out via the Internet are never really private again. It can be a challenging concept for many children to understand that their online behavior potentially has as many, if not more, consequences as face to face contact. Kids need to understand that they need to behave as carefully online as they would in every day contact with another person. Before they say something cruel or get angry with someone in an email or on an Internet site, children should think twice before sending those strong words. Once words are on the Internet, they are there forever and others whom they do not want to see those words may end up seeing them.
The key for kids is knowing enough to stop and tell their parents, and for parents to keep a close eye on their children both online and off.
Additional Resources on Cyberbullying
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