What have you taught your children about net bullying, or ganging up on other children via ‘reputation smearing’? Do you understand the hate, trauma and pain ‘reputation smearing’ can do to a child as they are online or school? Does the headline, “Child Commits Suicide Due to Cyberbullying” have meaning to you? Or are you replying that ‘No one killed them, they killed themselves’? This was a comment I read in an open discussion about bullying in an online news show.
If you believe it couldn’t happen to your child, think again! All it takes is one child who spearheads a campaign of hate amongst their classmates. Turned loose on your child, that hate can cause fear, depression, anxiety and ultimately in some cases of late, suicide. Schools will be suspending guilty parties and states will be prosecuting as this takes over the news. Read this article on Web MD about What Motivates Kids Who Are Bullies?
The latest incident of bullying online is of a sixteen year old girl, Phoebe Prince, who had just moved to America from Ireland with her parents. She committed suicide after being bullied online, in the school hallways, lunchroom, bathroom, and lockers. Nine teens are going to trial now in a landmark case. Six of the teens are being charged with felonies in connection with the bullying that led to her suicide. The charges include violation of civil rights and stalking. Three of the six students are being charged as adults of which two of those males are being charged with statutory rape. One lawyer speaking for his male client said in a statement: “My client has been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. I will remind you that we are dealing with a young adult, a child really, who is being swept up in circumstances that are beyond normal experiences.” How about Phoebe Prince who was harrassed beyond ‘normal experiences’?
The defendants viewed Phoebe Prince as someone who was “taking away” other girls’ boyfriends, witnesses told investigators. Bullying has a variety of reasons for its behavior none of which justify its actions.
Parents, watch and see what the future will be if your child is guilty of bullying on school grounds or bullying on the net or texting. You will also be held accountable as society seeks to end this insidious form of hate.
Parents of children who have been or are being bullied, you are the only ones they can really depend on to keep them safe. Just counseling them to ‘hit the bully in the nose’ may only escalate the bullying and put your child at further risk. Take the case ‘early’ to your police department, their teachers and your school principal, and ultimately to your school board. If left unchecked the hatred grows and envelopes those involved. If you are not seeing results from your complaints, take it to the next level and guard your child by doing whatever it takes.
Be near their location when they are walking home, in the school hallways, lunchroom, or playground. Work with the school and start a parent group that patrols the school bathrooms or any other areas that are secluded on school grounds. Do what it takes to make the safety of your child or any child take first place.
The most important thing you can do is watch your child; watch your teen. Is their behavior changed and do they dread being at school? Look at their social networking sites (My Space, Facebook, personal emails etc.) to see if there is damage being done to them by cyberbullies. The teen girl, Phoebe, had a memorial site dedicated to her after her suicide and the bullys were still leaving obscene comments and smearing her on the social networking site.
Check up on their texting, and keep the lines of communication open. If the child is on your calling plan for the cell phones, make it your ‘known right’ to the child to check on their texts. The thought is the same for your internet provider. As the parent, if you are paying for the internet provider service, make it your ‘known right’ to the children and teens, that you will be checking what is being posted and written to and about your child online.
If you have to take out a restraining order against an offending party, do it immediately. Go to your police and give them the messages of the person who is cyberbullying which can also be seen as stalking. Then make a visit to your school prinicipal followed up by a letter to the school board demanding they take action on your child’s behalf. Half the battle is to get it on paper and have a record on file of you defending your child through legal, legitimate channels before anything drastic happens.
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