Bullying has taken on a whole new meaning! In the past, teens and children mainly had to worry about being picked on after school, by the neighborhood bully or being left out of social functions. Now, Cyber Bullying has taken this to a whole new level and has to be feared and dealt with 24 hours a day, 7 days per week! Now peers are using text messages, social networks, emails, chat rooms, and even creating websites to humiliate and bully each other. They are going as far as to send pictures, some sexual in nature, over the internet or by cell phone to bring shame or harm to a peer. In fact, 42% of kids have been bullied online and 1 out of 4 has had it happen more than once! On top of that, 35% of kids have been threatened online! This is not something that can be ignored any longer if we want our kids to be safe physically and emotionally, especially with how long our kids spend online and how creative the cyber bullying has become.
Who needs counseling for Cyber Bullying:
It’s not just the young person that had a threatening email sent about them or a vicious rumor circulated through cyber space that needs counseling. They certainly will benefit from counseling and dealing with the pain, fear and shame they are facing, however, parents can also benefit from walking this journey out with their child. It is hard enough to face this bullying that seems to have no limits and is so wide spread, but feeling like they are alone is even more intimidating. Also, it is important to not forget the teen or child who is sending these damaging emails, texts, pictures or postings. It is very important for them to deal with their anger, their choices in attacking others, and to be aware of any deeper issues that may lead to even more hurtful acting out. Don’t underestimate the impact that cyber bullying is having on the emotional well being of our young people. The pain runs deep and if it is not faced, explored and dealt with, it will have far reaching consequences that will affect them potentially the rest of their lives.
First of all, you can expect a safe place to share fears, threats, attacks and the emotions you are feeling in facing this every day. You will find an advocate that will not judge or condemn but will partner with you to not only deal with the Cyber Bully but also the wounds that have been caused along the way. Finally, a game plan will be developed to address the Cyber Bullying, to protect yourself going forward and what to do with the shame, pain and fear you are walking through.
Tips in dealing with Cyber Bullying:
• Tell a trusted adult, hopefully your parent, about the bullying and keep telling them until they take action with you.
• Be sure to tell your school if it is school related. Many schools have processes in place to deal with bullying.
• Parents: talk to your children/teens about this regularly. Did you know that 58% have not told their parents or an adult about something mean or hurtful that happened to them online? Place filters on your computer, monitor the time your child/teen is online and have reporting that shows what websites are being visited by all users of the computer.
• Don’t erase the messages because they may be needed later on to take action.
• Use every tool necessary to block bullying messages through your cell phone, email and online.
• If you are threatened, report this to the police and also be sure to NEVER meet anyone you meet online under any circumstances.
Make no mistake that Cyber Bullying is very real! It often can hit much deeper and be more painful than being physically bullied. The good thing is that it can be faced, dealt with and overcome! It is extremely important to take the bullying seriously and whether you are being bullied, the one doing the bullying or the parent of either of these to take action before things get out of hand!