Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cyberbullying - Part Two of Two

In last week's blog I addressed some of the issues relating to cyberbullying: what it is; ways kids cyberbully; and the effects of cyberbullying. In this week's conclusion on cyberbullying I will address: why kids do it; statistics; a recent case in the news; how to prevent it; and some resources.

Over the past week I came across a news article in which two teenage girls in Florida have been arrested and charged with cyberstalking. In this case the two girls (ages 15 and 16) were charged with cyberstalking after they created a fake Facebook page for a classmate. On the page the two teens allegedly created altered pictures of the classmate - in sexually explicit situations - and made disparaging remarks about the classmate. The reasons the two girls gave for this behavior? "Because nobody liked her," and the other one stated she "thought it would be a funny joke."

With that being said, here are some other reasons kids bully/cyberbully:
- for power and a feeling of control
- entertainment, for laughs, or because they are bored
- they think they will not get caught
- do it as a result of peer pressure
- they are motivated by revenge, anger or frustration

In a survey done in 2009, by Cox Communication, of kids ages 13-18 they found the following results:
15% said that they have been bullied online
10% said they have bullied via their cell phone
7% said that they have bullied another person online
5% said that they have bullied another person using their cell phone

So how do we keep our children safe? What can we do to prevent this, or decrease the likelihood of it happening to our children? The first thing is that you have to educate your children. Teach your children never to give out personal information online, never share their passwords, and never meet someone that you only know online. Inform your children of the consequences that can come with cyberbullying, such as losing your ISP, or various accounts (Facebook, IM accounts, etc). Also, as parents be aware of what your children are doing online, and keep computers in public areas of the home, keep them out of bedrooms.

However our children have power in this cyber world as well. Children have the power to block communications with any bully, and can delete messages sent by a bully without reading them. Children can encourage their friends not to participate in cyberbullying, and refuse to pass on messages bullying others. And last but not least, children should tell someone - an adult, a friend or even report bullying/threatening to the service provider.

The most important thing you can do is to talk with your children. Keep open communication and teach your children how to be safe. If your children feel comfortable talking with you, they are more likely to come to you when they have problems. Together you can help them work through any situation, including cyberbullying.

If you are looking for further resources on cyberbullying go to:

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