Your Child Is Involved in Bullying—Time to Wake Up

Your Child Is Involved in Bullying—Time to Wake Up

Your Child Is Involved in Bullying—Time to Wake Up

Blog99_Bullying_SadGirl-300x300 Your Child Is Involved in Bullying—Time to Wake UpWhat comes to mind when you think of bullying? Pushing someone off the swings at the playground? Laughing as a student slips and falls in the cafeteria? Telling a classmate that they can’t sit with you at lunch because of their appearance? While all of these are certainly instances of bullying, they also make up a narrow definition of the term.

According to StopBullying.gov, while most reported bullying among youth takes place in school buildings, cyberspace has created a new avenue for bullying behaviors to take place. According to the film Breaking the Silence, half of teens and adolescents have been bullied online, and the same number have engaged in cyberbullying. Furthermore, one in three teens receives a cyber threat. Additionally, while the official definition of bullying from StopBullying.gov requires that a behavior be repeated or has the potential to be repeated, even a one-time event can have a lasting effect on a child, similar to the effects of repeated events, if they are not addressed. A question like “How does it feel to be fat?” no matter how seemingly innocent or playful, is harmful and can count as bullying. Based on the information above, your child is more than likely involved in bullying in one form or another. It is time to wake up and do what we can to break the cycle.

Blog99_Bullying_GirlOnPhone-300x200 Your Child Is Involved in Bullying—Time to Wake UpTechnology is becoming an increasingly important part of our lives, and it cannot be obliterated. That said, it is also important to set limitations on technology. The first thing that parents can do to help prevent instances of bullying is to instill good digital safety habits in their kids. This involves being aware of what apps your kids are using. The most popular apps among today’s preteens and teens are Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Vimeo, VSCO, and Facebook. Know your kids’ account information and have monitors or parental controls in place. Print out the checklist below and use it to keep track of your children’s account information. Friend and follow your kids, but do not stalk them—after all, you want to develop trust both ways. Set ground rules around social media use as a family and come up with an agreed-upon contract that can be modified as needed. This contract can include such items as only using phones during certain hours, not posting any nudity, and not posting any personal identifying information, such as addresses. Try to make the items on this contract concrete and clear rather than abstract. The clearer items are, the easier it will be for kids to follow.

App Username Password
Instagram    
Snapchat    
Twitter    
TikTok    
YouTube    
Vimeo    
VSCO    
Facebook    

Blog99_Bullying_FlowerPetals-300x200 Your Child Is Involved in Bullying—Time to Wake UpFamilies can set up times where they use technology together so that it is a collaborative process. Seek opportunities to learn from your kids about the different apps that they are using. Instead of judging their use of technology, ask them open-ended questions. This is empowering for youth. Parents should also be mindful of their own technology use and be good digital role models for their children. This includes knowing when to unplug and avoiding any habits you do not want your children developing, for example looking at your phone instead of conversing with one another over a meal. It is also a good idea to encourage your kids to develop hobbies offline. This can include joining a club, taking on an extracurricular activity, spending time in nature, or hanging out with friends without any devices. Remember that you can’t post interesting content if you are spending all your time looking at others’ ;-). For additional resources, check out the Family Online Safety Institute and Common Sense Media.

Blog99_Bullying_MomAndBoyCrying-200x300 Your Child Is Involved in Bullying—Time to Wake UpWhat can you do if you suspect that your child is being bullied? Parents should encourage open communication by taking their children seriously and validating their feelings. It is not always easy to juggle all the demands of being a parent in addition to the many other responsibilities to which parents find themselves needing to attend. However, taking the time to pause and listen to your children so that they feel they can turn to you is vital. Understandably, not all children feel comfortable opening up to their parents. If this is the case, parents must discuss alternatives with their children. For example, they can let their kids know that if they do not feel comfortable talking to them, they can talk to other trusted adults and can come up with a list together of who these trusted adults might be. Children also need to be reassured that whatever they share with other adults won’t get back to their parents. Another idea is for parents to give their children a journal in which they can write down their feelings about anything that they might be going through.

Parents also need to be observant and aware of their children’s behaviors. If your children are acting more isolated or more irritable, if their grades are slipping, or if they are just not acting like their usual selves, this is an indication that something might be wrong. Do not be afraid to confront your children if you notice any unusual behavioral patterns—it is better to be safe than sorry. They might not want to open up right away. In fact, you should expect that they won’t want to. But you should not be afraid to ask them—multiple times if necessary. In the event that your children do not want to talk to you, refer to the ideas above.

Blog99_Bullying_MomKissingGirl-200x300 Your Child Is Involved in Bullying—Time to Wake UpIf your children do open up to you about something they are going through, give them your full attention. Thank them for trusting you and sharing with you and validate their feelings. Assure them that you will advocate for them, but also teach them tools to help them advocate for themselves. School districts do have processes in place to address bullying, both with the victim and the perpetrator. From a legal standpoint, cyberbullying is a crime. Children and parents should know that they can take screenshots of any cyberbullying behaviors and report it to the police. You can also report cyberbullying to school authorities even if it did not take place at school. Let your children know that if someone says something to them—either online or in person—that leaves a bad taste in their mouth, no matter how innocent it might seem, they must call the other person out on it and say something. If they ever feel uncomfortable with any interaction, let them know not to keep it to themselves. Otherwise it will not be addressed and has the potential to be repeated.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while bullying behaviors should not be condoned, oftentimes perpetrators of bullying are more fragile than victims. This is not to say that those who bully should not be faced with consequences. However, when addressing instances of bullying, the context of the perpetrator should also be taken into account and amended if needed. A remedial approach is recommended over a retributive approach This will help ensure that those who bully do not perpetrate further in the future. This also involves parents being aware of their children’s potential bullying behaviors. All too often, parents have the belief that “My kid would never do that.” But it is important to remember that children often act differently at school and at home, and denying the possibility that there could be an issue is only harming them in the long term. The long-term effects of bullying involvement manifest not only in those who are bullied, but also those who bully.

Blog99_Bullying_BoyOnTablet-300x288 Your Child Is Involved in Bullying—Time to Wake UpIf you or someone you know is experiencing bullying, please do not suffer in silence. There are resources out there that will help you. You can seek out information from such resources as StopBullying.gov or talk to your parents, your principal, your school counselor, a teacher, or any other trusted adult. You can talk to a crisis counselor on Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741741.

You can also seek out the support of a coach or counselor or even someone who has been through something similar on Konversai. Konversai is an online knowledge-sharing platform that connects knowledge providers and knowledge seekers on any topic of interest through one-on-one live video conversations. If you have in any way experienced bullying and want to support others who may be going through something similar, you can do so on Konversai. Or if you want to talk to someone but are not comfortable doing so within your personal network, you are sure to find someone on Konversai to talk with. Konversai is a platform where you can come exactly as you are. You do not have to pretend to be something you are not. Any and all knowledge, skills, and experiences you have—no matter how niche or broad, commonplace or obscure—have value on Konversai and may be exactly what someone else is looking for. You can choose to just have one conversation with another user on Konversai, or you can make it a continuous thing depending on your needs. The best part is you don’t have to leave your house. All you need is a device with Internet connection and Skype or FaceTime. All sessions on Konversai take place at times that are mutually convenient for both users involved, and you can have as many of as few as you wish.

Users are encouraged to be both knowledge providers and knowledge seekers on any as many topics as they would like—the only limit is one’s imagination. One of Konversai’s aims is to foster healthy digital interactions in an age where technology is making so many of us more and more disconnected and often affecting us detrimentally. Whether you are having a session on Konversai as a provider or a seeker, you are sure to leave the interaction feeling enriched. Join Konversai today and help us realize our mission of democratizing knowledge, putting the human connection back into the heart of technology, and making the world better by enabling meaningful and authentic conversations that can make people’s lives better.

By Pavita Singh

Relevant Sites:

  1. www.StopBullying.gov
  2. www.fosi.org
  3. www.commonsensemedia.org
  4. www.crisistextline.org
  5. www.Konversai.com
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