“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”
“I’m rubber and you’re glue! Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!”
“You’re not the boss of me!”
Do you remember saying these when you were growing up? These were the defenses we had against playground bullies. These are the words that stopped kids in their tracks when they were being hurtful, mean and insensitive. Today’s bullies are different. The tactics and methods have changed.
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.
We didn’t have these methods growing up. Bullying was done face to face. We were able to walk away. Cyber bullies don’t respond to witty retaliation. Telling them they are being mean adds fuel to the fire, lets them know that they have a power against their victim.
Since cyber bullying can be done through many mediums, our children need to know there are boundaries to the information they share online. Photos, addresses and other personal information must be kept private. Once something is shared online there is no taking it back. There are delete buttons but that doesn’t help with situations once others see what has been shared.
38% of children under 12 are already on Facebook. That’s 7.5 million kids.
Talk to your children about maintaining their privacy. Insist they speak up if they feel they are being harassed or bullied. Set house rules for time spent online, allowed websites and keeping passwords accessible to adults.
Cyber bullying can have devastating effects on entire families, for both the bully and the victim. Watch your children for these signs:
- Bullying of family members and friends
- Use of alcohol and drugs
- Disinterest in attending school
- Declining academics
- Lowered self-esteem
- Withdrawn or depressed personality
Keeping a watchful eye on your children is the best way to prevent and deal with cyber bullies. Start a conversation today about what your children should look for in a bully. They may know one. They may already be experiencing it. October is Anti-Bullying Month. Stand up against the those that try to tear our families down. Visit DoSomething.org or CyberBullying.us for ways to fight against the bullying whether online or face to face.