Bullying in 2013   2 comments

Cyber Bully LoserMrsMowryThis weekend I had an interesting conversation with a friend who is a speech pathologist. We both work in schools with active anti-bullying programs. Because we are both employed by public schools, we had to receive training to recognize the different types of bullying and how to prevent them.

We’ve seen young children ‘test’ mean statements on one another. After the child sees a classmate or playmate become visually upset, he usually knows that mean behavior isn’t acceptable. The child usually feels guilty. He or she notices that bullying words have a negative effect, thus preventing further bullying. The internet has changed this learning dynamic. When a child practices bullying online, he or she doesn’t get to see the hurt they’ve caused. They don’t suffer the negative repercussions. So what would trigger a psychological reaction to prevent future bullying? Nothing.

PrintSo why is this important today? To start, social media use is at an all-time high. A Pew Research Center study of teen and adult social media use shows that 81% of teens are using some form of social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. While I celebrate the technological literacy in teens, I mourn the amount of cyber bullying that is running rampant on the internet. In October, a 12-year-old girl took her own life after being bullied by two of her female classmates. These girls repeatedly told her that she was ugly, that no one liked her, that she should kill herself…so she did. Without adult supervision on the internet, teens can say and do what they want. Teens are even finding new social media sites because they’re trying to avoid their parents on Facebook.

So what can we do? It is our job as adults (and mine as an educator) to prevent bullying, both online and in person. If your child approaches you with a problem, LISTEN. It may not be the usual teenage drama. Watch for extreme changes in behavior (Note: I know that teens are bursting with hormones, but I’m not making a joke here. Extreme changes.). I know your child wants privacy, but safety needs to come first. In my short time as a teacher, I’ve seen too many teens terrorize one another over the internet, especially in junior high and high school. Coach your child on his or her options to remove a bully from their social media sites. Facebook allows you to delete friends and block them. You can report bullying to HR and have the bully’s account suspended. Instagram and Twitter have similar security measures. If a teen is being bullied over text messages, you can have the number blocked. Be open and honest with your teen. It may seem like an overreaction to go to such measures, but if it saves a child’s life, it’s worth it.Cyber Bullying

Remember, bullying and teasing are two different things. When a teen is bullying another teen, those words are designed to hurt. The internet is a great place to completely slander another person without having to suffer any consequences. A screen can’t show emotion, a screen doesn’t show an emotional reaction. Cyber bullies can hide behind anonymity and distance to do permanent psychological damage. Don’t let that damage become part of your child’s life.

Posted December 4, 2013 by mrsmowry in Living Life

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2 responses to “Bullying in 2013

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  1. Thanks for publishing this information. As one who works with school leaders, I can honestly say this is a problem that is getting worse. My biggest question is What is the root cause of so many people trying to “put down” others? Hard to fathom. http://ohtheplaceswesee.com

  2. Pingback: My Favorite Posts From Year 2 | MowryJournal.com

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