How to combat cyber-bullying
May 24, 2010 (WPVI) -- Recently there was yet another case of a teenager who was teased and tormented too far on a social networking site and was finally pushed to the edge.It was a shocking story that made national headlines. A 15-year-old Massachusetts girl who committed suicide after being viciously bullied by school mates online. It's a tragic tale of what, experts say, has become a dangerous trend, cyber-bullying the digital torment has links to teenage suicide, especially since the rise of social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace.
"Social networking sites exercise those interpersonal skills by becoming more aggressive, via the computer, via the internet, via cell phone usage and so forth, " said Dr. Yuma Tomes.
School psychologist Dr. Yuma Tomes says because of the anonymity of the internet recognizing and combating cyber-bullying has become an increasing challenge for schools as well as for parents.
He said parents should be on the lookout for signs that their child is a victim of cyber-bullying or digital teasing.
For example, is your child hesitating to use the internet or go on certain sites they used to frequent?
"Bullying will show you a change in behavior whether they are the bully or if they being bullied and so what kind of changes in behavior, but also its important for parents to know who their friends are, and what they're doing with those friends when they're not in each other's homes, and out in the streets," Dr. Tomes added.
Dr. Tomes said the bottom line is becoming more connected to your child and perhaps re-examining how much access, especially unsupervised access they have to the internet and simply communicating more because in most cases, it's the lack of communication that often prevents bullying victims from seeking help.
"A lot of times students don't know how to come to say I'm being bullied, or they're fearful of saying I'm being bullied, so we've got to change the landscape of school and our neighborhoods so that people are feeling much more comfortable and can say...this guy has been doing things to me that I really am fearful of. How do I handle this," he added.
Experts say as long as there are sites like Facebook and Myspace, there will be some type of cyber-bullying. And parents should prepare their kids for that possibility by instructing them on how to "stop, block and tell". That is stop reading the abusive messages, block the sender from sending them and tell an adult about it.
rick williams parenting reports, parenting, rick williams
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