Cyber Bullying: 5 Ways to Help Keep Kids Safe
This is the age of the internet and social networking and if you are not on board, chances are your kids probably are or will be soon. My kids are just starting school but I’ve heard the stories on the news and I’ve heard the problems other parents are facing, cyber bullying is real. Just last week a friend had to revoke her thirteen year old’s Facebook page.
Whether your kids encounter bullies face to face or virtually it’s important for them recognize a bully, avoid them, and inform an adult about the situation. A few weeks ago I talked about how so many kids were creating “private” Facebook accounts without their parents' knowledge. Who will that child turn to if they are bullied by a classmate or stranger?
According to a 2003-04 study by i-SAFE 42% of kids have been bullied while online and 1 in 4 have been bullied more than once. 35% of our kids have been threatened online and 21% have received mean or threatening e-mails or other messages. 58% of our kids admit someone has said something mean or hurtful to them online and a shocking 53% had something mean or hurtful to someone else online. More than half of our children have said or have been talked about in a mean or hurtful way online.
With all this bullying going on online you would think parents would know about it right? Nearly 60% of children have not told their parents or an adult what is happening online.
The i-SAFE study is based on 2004 i-SAFE survey of 1,500 student’s grades 4-8.
If the kids aren’t talking then how do we avoid cyber bullying? We need to stop it before it starts. Here are some tips that both parents and educators can take to help keep kids safe.
- Make sure kids know that it’s okay to tell a trusted adult about the bullying. Parents and school administrators need to take action on the bullying so the kids will keep telling.
- Tell kids not to open or read messages by cyber bullies
- Kids and parents should tell the school if the bullying is school related.
- Let children know if they do receive e-mails or other messages they should not delete them as they may be needed to take action.
- Schools and parents should teach kids they need to be respectful online and not spread harmful or cruel messages or images to others. If they know someone is being bullied or is a bully they need to tell a trusted adult immediately.
With so many ways to communicate online it’s important for school administrators and parents to set rules and policies on online interactions. Perhaps schools can create community outreach programs to help educate parents and kids the dangers of cyber bullying and how to avoid it.
The best way to prevent and avoid cyber bullying is communication and awareness, we need to make sure that kids who have been bullied are being heard and their bullies are getting punished for their actions. Kids will remain silent if they don’t feel they will be taken seriously or if they think telling will only make things worse.
I’ve had my own run-ins with bullies but in today’s world I think cyber bullying is much worse, it seems much easier to say mean and cruel things to someone when you are not staring them in the eyes.
Visit www.i-safe.org for more information on cyber bullying and how to prevent it.