Cyber bullying is a serious threat, and a relatively new one on the horizon. Parents have a duty to protect their children from danger, but the problem of bullying expands beyond ordinary reach. The advent of Facebook and other social media platforms has dawned a new era of cyber bullying stories that virtually never existed before.
If you’re like most parents, you want the best for your kids, and that includes good social interaction. Bullies disrupt this process. Worse, and far more frightening, we are seeing it lead to effects in children like shunning, psychological problems, even suicide.
Cyber bullying statistics abound, but here are a few to think about:
● 25% of children will become victims of Cyber Bullying
● 56% of children experience Cyber Bullying in online communities like Facebook
● Children who experience Cyber Bullying also score lower on tests in school
It's almost unbelievable! Well, it’s even tougher to experience for children and as a parent of a bullied child. So what causes bullying and cyber bullying to happen?
The simple fact is that children, by nature, don’t understand the long-term consequences of their actions. This is particularly true when it comes to cyber bullying. Three factors to consider:
1. Cyber Bullying comes from anonymity.
If I don’t have to directly face the person I’m addressing, it follows naturally that I’ll state my opinions stronger; be more sarcastic. Add to that the normal lack of restraint in children, and you have a recipe for a lot of painful feelings and hurt emotions.
2. Many parents don’t recognize Cyber Bullying until it’s too late. Studies show that children being bullied tend to withdraw. They don’t always know how to express what they’re facing, and as a result they internalize it. This is dangerous because the warning signs are significantly reduced. You have to make sure you know what to look for.
3. Cyber Bullying involves behavior once considered “normal”. Name-calling, harsh hazing or teasing; these are behaviors children grow up with, which makes it easy to overlook and discount the effect they have on our youth. An online presence makes this a completely different game than ever before. Things that are said or done online, like posting photos, stick around for months or years.
In effect, what we’re dealing with here is the lives of our children. Something for any smart parent to take seriously.
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