Bullying, unfortunately, is nothing new but in the last few years its seen a devastating new twist; cyber bullying. The fact is, in the past a bullied child could at least escape to their home, getting completely away from any taunts or other problems that they were facing at school. Today’s new technology however allows bullies to actually invade even this private sanctuary through the use of texts, emails, online posts and so forth.
Indeed, today’s electronic bully can follow their victim practically anywhere they go and, as a parent, you need to be aware of what’s happening, the risks that your child faces and the steps that you need to take to keep these bullies out of your child’s ‘real’ life and out of their online life as well.
A good place to start is by realising that, just like in real life, there are ‘bad neighborhoods’ that your children should not be visiting because cyber bullies tend to hang out there. If you allow your children to use social media like Facebook and Twitter you must also demand that they let you have access to their accounts so that you can monitor. Many times a child that is being cyber bullied will not alert their parents, their teachers or anyone else for that matter and it’s only by monitoring that many parents find out about the problem.
If your child has a cell phone or smart phone and you’re worried that they’re being bullied through that, sometimes the only recourse that you have is to literally and physically take their phones away at night or demand that they turn them off after a certain hour. The fact is, cell phones are not only an easy tool for bullies but can also lead to sleep problems if your child’s phone is ringing constantly throughout the night.
If your child has become too savvy and is able to cover their tracks while surfing online, you may wish to consider buying a type of spying software that will allow you to see everything that your child has been seeing online. Most programs can be uploaded to your computer quite easily and remain hidden so that your child doesn’t know they’re being watched.
If you’re still worried about what’s going on inside your child’s computer you may wish to demand that they put it in a more public part of your house like the kitchen, living room or den. Of course, if you’re not paying any attention to what your child’s doing this won’t be very helpful or may only be helpful for the first few days until they get used to the fact that you never look. Point being, if you’re going to take the steps to do this you should definitely take the extra steps to keep an eye on them while they’re online.
At the end of the day the most important thing that you can do to protect your child from being bullied is to talk openly and honest with them on a regular basis. If your child knows that they can talk openly with you and that you won’t ‘freak out’ about anything that they say, you’ll find that they will talk about almost anything. If they’re being bullied and have been hiding it from you because they are scared of your reaction you need to do something to change that so that they will trust you.
If all else fails, bullying of any kind is a really hot topic right now and, if your child has a bully problem and you’re getting nowhere trying to protect them or stop the bullying you may wish to go to your local newspaper or television station with your problem. This may seem a bit much but if your child’s health and welfare are truly at risk it might be necessary. Best of luck.