How to tackle cyberbullying
RIDGEWOOD, NJ (WABC) -- Eyewitness News wants to help parents and kids learn the characteristics of cyberbullying and how to stop it from happening.
Studies show 9 out of 10 cyberbullying victims do not report the abuse to their parents.
So the question to teens is: How tuned in are parents to their kids' online social chats?
"My parents are not really tech-savvy at all," said one teen.
"To be honest, I don't think my mom knows what I do. She knows that I'm on Facebook and stuff. I mean, you don't want them do know what you're doing," said another teen.
There lies the dangerous conflict, kids who don't want their parents to know, while parents really ought to know what their sons and daughters are saying online.
To better prepare parents on tackling that delicate balance, staffers from West Bergen Mental Healthcare recently held a workshop at the Ridgewood Library called "Helping Parents Understand Cyberbullying." Not one parent showed up.
"It's one of many challenges having teenagers and that's really the issue. Parents are faced with a lot of issues," said Heather Abric, a parent.
But, experts say that cannot be an excuse.
Danielle Heller, a licensed clinical social worker, implores parents to monitor their children's online chats.
"They wouldn't just let their child go out into the world, not knowing what friends they are with, where they are going. But when they sit behind that computer, unless you are surfing the web with them, very often that's what they are doing," Heller said.
Heller offered some tips for parents and their children.
- Cut back the screen time. Less time online means less exposure to cyberbullies.
- Teens need to step up. If you witness an online attack, pipe in and say "your comments are totally unacceptable. Every person deserves respect."
- For parents, if you learn of a cyberbully attack, do not freak out and become a bully yourself.
"You need to stay calm and sane and handle the problem with dignity because you are role modeling that," Heller said.
Perhaps more parents need to take the aggressive, strict approach employed by one mother Eyewitness News spoke to.
"The computer is like an instrument for them to just...for knowledge, for school, for homework, but for nothing else," said Rita Espinoca, a parent.
That protects her son from the unique characteristics of cyberbullying:
- It's usually anonymous, meaning the victim can't hide from the bully because he or she doesn't know who it is.
- Because it's anonymous, it's often vicious. Cyberbullies will say things online they wouldn't dare say in person.
- It's constant. The harassment and embarrassment can continue whenever and wherever you log on.
"When you get cyber bullied it makes you self-conscious and uncomfortable and not wanting to wake up the next morning," said Margaux Greenhouse, a student.
"I feel like there's a lot of things you could never say to someone's face because they're just too mean. But when it's over the computer you don't have to see what their face looks like after," said Alex Caine, a student.
"When its anonymous and you're not face to face with somebody there is all this leverage to just be rude to people," said Dagny Jewell, a student.
--- ONLINE RESOURCES:
ConnectSafely.org and the iKeepSafe Coalition have partnered to create A Parents' Guide to Facebook. The 35-page booklet and online resource is available for reading and printing at www.connectsafely.org/fbparents - provides parents with the perspective and how-to information they need to help their teens optimize their privacy and safety on Facebook.
Stop Bullying Now
New Jersey Bullying
Connecticut Commission on Children
Educator's Guide to Bullying
National Center for Bullying Prevention
Kids Health (Helping kids deal with bullies)
new jersey, battling bullies, bullying, cyber bullying, local news, joe torres
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