Bullying Prevention: At School and Online
Everyone has a bullying story. They used to be about jocks stealing lunch money or the “popular” social cliques leveling insults and spreading rumors about the social “outcasts” of the class. In both of these cases, the bullied could confront and/or avoid their tormentors, but in today’s Wi-Fi world of instant communication and text messaging, bullies operate behind a shroud of anonymity.
Parents are growing increasingly concerned about the pervasiveness of cyberbullying in their children’s lives. The more technology their children are exposed too, the more easily they are targeted by bullies. Not even a decade ago, kids could find safety in their home, but the advent of the Internet and the accessibility of cell phones have allowed bullies to penetrate the sanctuary of the home.
Parents are also struggling to advise their kids on how best to deal with cyberbullying. Parents know how to deal with bullies at school. Drawing from personal experience, they can suggest that their child walk away, tell the bully to stop, or avoid him or her entirely. They can talk to teachers and counselors to address the problem, but when it comes to cyberbullying, parents have no frame of reference to draw upon. There is a disconnect between parent and child. Many parents are unaware of the ways that new technology is employed to bully, and research suggests many kids are reluctant to tell parents about cyberbullying incidents (only one in ten do) because they feel that they will be unable to help.
This is primarily the reason why the National Crime Prevention Council launched a national public education campaign to educate teens as well as parents on ways to prevent cyberbullying.
Parents should educate themselves, as well as their children, about the force and effects of cyberbullying. They should also inform their children of what to do in the event that they are cyberbullied or witness cyberbullying. Don’t write it. Don’t forward it. Show kids how to block cyberbullies and to delete messages without reading them. Never encourage your children to seek revenge, further escalating the cyberbullying epidemic. Remind kids to keep their passwords secret from everyone but you. Assure kids that cyberbullying is never their fault. These are just a few tips that NCPC has to address this problem. More information can be found on NCPC’s website: www.ncpc.org
Reprinted with the permission of the National Crime Prevention Council. © 2008 National Crime Prevention Council. All rights reserved.
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