Parents always ask how they can stop cyber bullying. This is difficult to explain as it takes many shapes and forms and is expressed through different electronics. The most important thing to instill in our children is the fact that if someone thinks something about you, it does not make it true. Personal responsibility is the next thing our children must understand so that they will not become the initiators of cyber bullying messages.
Many children noted that they were afraid to tell their parents, or show them the messages when they received them, as they didn’t want their parents upset with them. I took the opportunity to explain to them that they are never responsible for messages received, only for messages sent. Convincing them not to respond to emails that are upsetting was a difficult thing to do until I reminded them that if they do not answer an email, the sender doesn’t know for sure if it was received.
Bullying follows a direct path in many situations. Teasing happens when someone says something mean to another child on an isolated occasion. Bullying is a repetitive action, perhaps three or four times at the elementary school level — same bully, same victim. Harassment grows out of bullying that was not reported to an adult. Cyber bullying usually does not appear out of nowhere, but has grown from the other sources of bullying. Once a physical altercation takes place, this is violence — the top of the bullying pyramid.
Looking back at what children discussed with me during October, it is easy to see how bullying is exclusion. Until we give our children some basic skills to deal with these situations, life might continue to be difficult socially at school. We don’t want that to happen for sure as a happy child is a learning child.
Will bullying go away? Will cyber bullying go away? Of course not, but in teaching our children how to deal with it, life will be better all around.