What can we do about cyberbullying?

“If you don’t like the way I am, then don’t come around me. If you don’t like the way that I talk, then don’t listen. If you don’t like the way I dress, then don’t look. But don’t waste my time telling me about it. I don’t care.  -From Cassidy Joy Andel’s Facebook page Nov. 3, 2010

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Cassidy Joy Andel, the 16-year-old Cooperstown, N.D. girl who took her own life on Nov. 4, 2010.

Cassidy was a victim of cyberbullying. This really hits home. It shows us that cyberbullying is alive and well even in our communities, our region and our state. It isn’t something that just happens to somebody else or some stranger that lives far away. Cassidy posted the following on her Facebook page on on Nov. 4, shortly before ending her life: “My time has come, and so I’m gone. To a better place, far beyond. I love you all as you can see. But it’s better now, because I’m free.”

An antibullying Facebook site, Cassidy Joy Andel, has been set up in her memory. The Facebook pages says, “Killed herself after being bullied. Cassidy, rest in peace. You are loved on this earth your story has inspired so many. Bullying should be stopped! You were a blessing on earth and your family and friends are in my prayers. Thank you Cassidy, thank you. God bless.”

I was looking through some cyberbullying prevention material and found the following information for parents and anyone concerned about cyberbullying. It is from the Washington Times Newspapers in Education supplement, “Delete Cyberbullying” distributed by the NIE Institute.

Parents should be aware of the types of activities youth are engaged in online and teach teens about cyberethics, responsibility, and Internet safety.

What can parents do?

Talk with teens about some of the risks and benefits posed by the Internet.

Share examples of inappropriate incidents that can happen online, which teens may view as harmless or normal (e.g., a stranger initiating a conversation with a teen regarding pictures the teen has posted of him or herself online).

Learn what their teens are doing online and keep track of their online behavior.

Visit websites that teens frequent (such as social networking sites) to see what teens encounter online. 

Tell teens never to give out personal information online (including their names, addresses, phone numbers, school names, or credit card numbers).

Let teens know that they should never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they meet online.

Communicate online rules and responsibilities to teens and enforce rules with tangible consequences.

Keep computers in a highly trafficked room in the house where online activities are hard for teens to hide.

Teach youth about cyberbullying and let them know that engaging in cyberbullying is unacceptable.

Explain that youth who cyberbully sometimes bully because they have a feeling of anonymity and a lack of accountability; however, cyberbullying is harmful and can have negative consequences.

Explain that youth who cyberbully aren’t always anonymous; they can be traced, located, and punished if the bullying becomes harassment.

How can parents help teens prevent cyberbullying?

Teach teens not to respond to cyberbullies. Show them how to block the bully’s messages or to delete messages without reading them. (Blocking and deleting messages/contacts may be executed differently through websites, instant messengers, or email providers. For help, contact the site/software administrators.)

Tell teens that they should never try to seek revenge on a bully or cyberbully.

Let teens know that they can report bullying incidents to Internet service providers (ISPs) and website moderators. These groups may be able to control some of the bully’s Internet capabilities. More than half of the teens surveyed thought that moderators of online groups should be used to prevent cyberbullying incidents.

Remind your teens to keep their passwords a secret from everyone except you.

Tell your teens that it’s not their fault if they become victims of cyberbullying, but it is important for them to tell you if they are victimized. Assure them that you will not revoke their Internet privileges if they are cyberbullied. Some teens don’t disclose cyberbullying incidents to parents because they fear that their Internet privileges will be taken from them. Speak openly with your teens about cyberbullying.

Help teen victims keep a record of bullying incidents. This will be helpful if the actions escalate and law enforcement needs to intervene. If the cyberbullying involves threats and harassment or frequent cyber-attacks, call law enforcement to ensure your teen’s safety. Remember that cyberbullying incidents sometimes end violently.  If you are unable to prevent cyberbullying, it is important to stop it as soon as possible.

One thought on “What can we do about cyberbullying?

  1. I attended a presentation by an employee of CVIC, and there are resources available at their center. I think we constantly need to reinforce to our teens that they make good decisons in how to treat their peers and that every one, including our own children, have the right to feel good about themselves and about who they are. Bullying has been around forever, but now it is done behind closed doors. Parents need help, and so do the kids at risk, to put an end to bullying today.

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