We are all different – we’re born that way. We have different likes, and dislikes; religions, and body types. Nobody is immune to being different – yet since the beginning of time, many kids, teens, and adults are picked on because of those differences – because of who they are. And with social networking being one of the most common ways of connecting and communicating, we would be wrong to assume that being bullied would remain in the school yards, classrooms, and office buildings.
With so many of us now connected through social networking, we can grow our businesses, share ideas, and communicate in ways we never thought possible – bullying included.
Growing up, I was bullied – every single day a group of classmates made sure my life was as much of a living hell as possible (at least for what a 9 to 13 year old could imagine), but once I stepped off that school bus – it was over. For 15 blissful hours I could easily avoid, and almost forget, what I had gone through that day – Schoolyard bullying when I was growing up, was only relegated to face to face “torture”, a luxury that does not exist today. Today – bullying continues long after the school bell rings…taunting insults and degrading comments make their way through texts, emails, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype – young people in the line of fire of bullies can find escaping impossible.
Bullying in Statistics
There are two types of cyber bullying: Synchronic and Asynchronic, both mean that the victim is never far from bullying behaviour – be it live through chat rooms, or through wall messages on Facebook, MySpace or other social media platforms. Both can be a detriment to the emotional well being of those targeted.
A Canadian study found that:
- 23% of middle-schoolers surveyed had been bullied by e-mail
- 35% in chat rooms
- 41% by text messages on their cell phones
So what do we do? Start a conversation with your child or teen. Parents and teachers can educate about programs like Stop A Bully (developed by a BC teacher) that have been created so that anyone can report bullying in a safe and confidential way.
How to tell if your child is being cyber-bullied?
- Computer Avoidance.
- Computer Obsession.
- Change in behaviour at home.
- Change in behaviour at school / school avoidance.
- Kids will either want to be on the computer to see if anything else is being written for others to see. Or they will want nothing to do with the computer.
- Any change in their behaviour is usually a sign something is going on in their world.
Tips to help
- As parents establish home rules regarding cyber-bullying. Talk to your kids about what it is, and come up with a plan.
- If you see it, print it or take a screen shot of it.
- Address it.
- Talk to the parents if you know that child.
- Talk to the students involved if you know them.
- Teach your child to only talk to kids that they know on the computer.
- Teach your kids not to talk to strangers.
- Girls are more likely than boys to be the target of cyber-bullying. There is a direct correlation to the amount of time girls spend online and the likelihood that they will be bullied.
- Only 15% of parents are “in the know” about their kids’ social networking habits, and how these behaviours can lead to cyber-bullying.
For Amanda Todd, Jamie Hubley, Amanda Cummings, Ryan Patrick Halligan, Megan Meier, Tyler Clementi and so many more, the damage has already been done. Let us work together to make the social highway safe environment for everyone. Let’s use social networking to STOP cyber bullying.