Beyond the Schoolyard Brawl
Not so long ago, kids took the traditional route to bully one another. The bigger kids would pick on the smaller ones, the nerds, the losers. Threaten to fight them outside after school and shove them into lockers. The abuse many kids suffered at the hands of their peers was sad and awful, but since then it has only gotten worse with the introduction of the internet. Now, bullying goes beyond face-to-face interactions, as children continue to harass each other through texts, social media platforms, and other popular sites. Online shaming is a big problem that many children are victims of on a daily bases, but don’t know how to end.
Victims of cyberbullying can talk to a trusted adult, report the negative messages to the internet service provider or mobile phone provider if they have received negative texts or calls, and block instant messages and emails. Parents can help their children if they are being cyberbullied by looking out for changes in behavior in the child, such as moodiness, isolation from family and friends, and extreme anxiety. Speak to your children and ask them directly if they are going through anything difficult and want to talk about it, and if they aren’t ready to share everything, tell them you are always here for them if they would like to talk about it later. Limiting excessive internet access is also a good idea. Even if they aren’t being bullied, too much internet use can damage a child’s social skills in person, and lead to struggles in other areas as well.
Cyberbullying is a serious issue, but even taking these small steps can help many children. Tell children to protect their friends and peers. If a child is being bullied, stand up for them: don’t be a bystander. Teach kids to spread love, not hate.