I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older that each year seems to go by faster and faster. 2015 was no exception. I can barely remember Halloween and my tree is up and my halls are decked. The holiday season has arrived!
Winter vacation is quickly approaching and people all over the world are gearing up to spend more time with friends and family. This downtime also means kids will be spending more time in the cyber world and unfortunately, bullies don’t take a vacation.
With this in mind, it’s important that parents and educators take the time to remind kids how to handle situations involving bullies whether they are online or off. This is a great time to have a conversations with kids about your expectations for responsible online usage and remind them what action to take when dealing with bullies.
Some Quick Facts On Bullying
- 7in 10 young people are victims of cyberbullying.
- 37%of them are experiencing cyberbullying on a highly frequent basis.
- 20%of young people are experiencing extreme cyberbullying on a daily basis.
- Facebook (including Instagram), Ask.FM and Twitter found to be the most likely sources of cyberbullying, being the highest in traffic of all social networks.
- Cyberbullying found to have catastrophic effects upon the self-esteem and social lives of up to70%of young people.
Your Top Tool: Communication
When it comes to students the one item I have on repeat is “take time to think.” For parents it’s much simpler: “COMMUNICATE!”
A tidbit I share all the time is how my mother raised us. Rather than lecturing about one issue or another, she would ask what we knew about something. She would take the time to get to know what we were into and who we were friends with.
It was an easier time for her with the lack of mobile technology and social media but I think that this ideal can easily translate into the digital world.
Stay on top of what is going on in the world by following news stories about bullying and other online issues and talk to your kids about them. Ask them what they have heard and if they have any thoughts about what is going on.
Checking in with them regularly and having conversations will help them feel more comfortable coming to you in the future with these types of issues.
By avoiding going into lecture mode, you will be establishing a great sense of trust for your kids. That’s what I loved about my mom. She hardly yelled or lectured and in turn we were more likely to come to her with problems.
Why Kids Don’t Report Bullying
1) Consequences- Technology has become an essential part of daily life and therefore people’s social lives. Many kids fear that if they report being harassed through digital means, parents will ban them or take away access to technology.
2) Humiliation- Many kids are afraid that when an incident is reported to parents or teachers they will appear weak or stupid in the eyes of their classmates.
3) Fear of Making It Worse-In addition to classmates learning of them telling, many kids fear that the bully will continue their harassments and even enlist others to take part.
Dealing with the Issues
So what to do when your child comes to you with an issue? Keep that communication going.
Ask your child what they would like you to do with the information they have given you. Do they simply want you to be aware of what is happening or would they like you to take action. If action is the answer, what kind? Talk to the other child’s parents? Talk to school administrators?
Let them be a part of the decision making and they will feel more in control for themselves. It will teach them the valuable skill of standing up for themselves and not always relying on someone else (mommy or daddy) to take care of all their problems.
Let them know that you are always and forever on their side no matter what!
Have your own thoughts? Please feel free to share them below!
Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com
You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.
Image courtesy of Marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net