School is back in session (yea!) and kids are out there being kids. We’d like our kids to have positive social interactions, and usually they do. But it seems like on every playground and in every cafeteria, there are bullies.
Bullies. You remember them. Sometimes the schoolyard bully was obvious, fitting the stereotype of big kid with minions lying in wait for little kid who got separated from the crowd. Sometimes bullies aren’t so obvious. Those are the ones who cause emotional harm by snubbing, belittling and critical comments, spreading rumors and gossip.
Bullies have discovered a new venue to spread their poison. We call them cyberbullies, and their reach really has no bounds. We used to say, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That adage is no longer true. Malicious gossip, rumors and lies fly through the internet, reaching a larger audience than ever before. Ugly, cruel images and videos are easily uploaded and shared.
There are too many stories of children emotionally damaged by cyberbullies. Have you talked to your child or teenager about cyberbullying?
A good place to start learning about cyberbullying is the OnlineOnguard.gov website. They define cyberbullying as:
“Cyberbullying is bullying or harassment that happens online. It can happen in an email, a text message, a game, or on a social networking site. It might involve spreading rumors or images posted on someone’s profile or passed around for others to see, or creating a group or page to make a person feel left out.”
Their Protect Kids Online program includes how to recognize, prevent, and manage an attack of cyberbullying.
Download the e-book Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online (pdf). You’ll also find short informative videos on keeping your kids safe online, on social sites, and on mobile devices. Another excellent guide is the webiste Cyberbullying: What Is Cyberbullying and How to Stop It. The guide also includes information about Sexting.
Most states have passed legislation on bullying that includes an “electronic harassment” policy, which address cyberbullying specifically. Learn more about your state’s cyberbullying laws and policies here.
It’s never too soon to talk to your child about bullying and cyberbullying.
Bullying happens in the workplace, too. If you feel you have witnessed or experienced bullying of any sort, there is help. Learn how to protect yourself and prevent workplace bullying. An excellent resource is the Workplace Bullying Institute.
By Catherine Buck Morgan
Corporate Media Specialist, DPP