Texting and Instant Messaging Can Hurt Children
Schools deal with the issue of harassment through text messaging and online instant messaging every day.
Cell phones and texting is the primary form of communication with teens. Families need to learn about internet safety and cyberbullying online.
But, many adults do not realize just how often children are being bullied online or through texting.
Often too afraid to tell their parents, children try to deal the problem of cyberbullying themselves. They often only getting their parents involved when the situation gets out of control and the child is helpless to do anything about it alone.
Texting is Main Source of Communication
Teachers and parents agree that texting-whether the act of sending one or the anticipation of receiving one- distracts tweens and teens. Most schools prohibit cell phones in the classrooms, but teens are very adept at getting around the system.
A 2008 Harris Interactive study found that nearly half of kids-42% could text even when blindfolded.
Tactics of the Cyberbully
Bullying, threats and intimidation, harassment and causing embarrassment of another are all tactics of today’s cyberbully.
This growing problem uses interactive technology such as cell phones, chat rooms and online instant messaging in an effort to harass, embarrass or otherwise victimize another person.
The motivation of the cyberbully is widely varied. Often schools are powerless to help as much of the bullying takes place off school grounds.
Why do Children Become Cyberbullies
The reasons children cyberbully each other are many. Sometimes children are holding a grudge against their victim, or want to emotionally hurt another. Sometimes they act out of boredom as a child seeks a new form of entertainment. Sometimes kids fight back against being bullied by becoming bullies themselves.
How to Combat Cyberbullying
At this juncture law enforcement around much of the world is ill equipped to deal with cases of cyber harassment. Right now most laws only apply to cyber threats such as hacking or death threats.
Often the only recourse for cyber harassment victims is to report the problem to their Internet Service Provider. In most cases cyberbullying is only considered a breach of the terms and conditions of the ISP and the only recourse is to suspend or cut off the bully’s internet access.
This usually only stops the bullying for a short time while the cyberbully sets up a new account, or finds access elsewhere.
Self Awareness Quiz
- What would I do if I found my child was being victimized by a cyberbully?
- Do I know the signs that my child may be being harassed by a cyberbully?
- Could I tell if my child might be bullying someone else online? How would I deal with it?
- We empower the bully to gain empathy and learn new ways of communication
- We empower the bystander to get involved and diffuse the confrontation
- We empower the victim to be courageous and set boundaries
- We empower the group, school, family or community to adopt a no-bully, respect for all policy
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