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Cyber Bullying Prevention
Bullying behavior among kids from elementary, middle, and high school has expanded beyond what parents and teachers may have experienced in their youth. Teasing and name calling have grown into full fledged attacks spread wide by the use of the internet, a form of abuse commonly known as cyber bullying.
Drs. Robin Kowalski, Susan Limber, and Patricia Agatston, co-authors of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program’s cyber bullying prevention curricula for grades 3-12 say that cyber bullying occurs when children and youth use technology such as text messaging, internet sites, and cell phones to bully others. They also suggest some ideas to help protect a child from becoming involved in bullying situations, as well as ways to get help.
Keep Tabs on Technology
While placing your home computer(s) in open access areas, such as family rooms or kitchens can be helpful, it is important to remember that kids can access the Internet from a variety of sources including mobile phones, I-touches, and handheld gaming devices. Tell your child that you may review his or her online communications if you think there is reason for concern. Consider installing parental control monitoring and/or filtering programs on your computer(s), but don’t rely solely on these tools. Blocking or filtering content works well for younger children. Monitoring and discussion works best for tweens and teens.
Communication is the Key
Talk regularly with your child about online activities, specifically cyber bullying, and encourage your child to tell you immediately if he or she becomes the victim of cyber bullying, cyber-stalking, or other illegal or troublesome online behaviors. Encourage your child to tell you if he or she is aware of others who may be the targeted by such behavior, and make sure your child understands that cyber bullying is unacceptable behavior that will have consequences if he or she takes part in it.
When Dealing with Cyber Bullying
Tell your child not to respond if he or she is cyber bullied but to tell an adult immediately and to save all messages as evidence. Contact the school if you suspect that the school district’s internet system is being used for nefarious purposes—it is their obligation to prevent negative use of their own networks. In any case, the school should be enlisted to try to help you resolve the problem if the children involved attend the same school.
The Rules of the “Superhighway” Can Help
Try to identify the individual doing the bullying. Even if the person is anonymous there are ways to track people down through internet service providers. Sending inappropriate language may violate the “terms and conditions” of email services and internet providers, web sites, and cell phone companies. You can contact these companies to get help in blocking the perpetrator or removing offensive content.
Getting the Police Involved
Cyber-bullying is criminal if it includes threats of violence, extortion, obscene or harassing phone calls or text messages, stalking, hate crimes, or child pornography. If any of these are present it is time to contact the police and let them track the person down.
The Minnesota Bullying Prevention Initiative is a partnership of the
Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association, the National Association
of Elementary School Principals, and Hazelden.
can we effectively and compassionately address the needs of children
who are being bullied, children who are
bullying, children who are bystanders, and the adults around them? This
is from a series of articles by Hazelden -- examining the issue of
prevention and offering strong, workable solutions.