Just a few weeks ago, a Rutgers student, Tyler Clementi, tragically ended his life after his roommate (allegedly) secretly taped his private sex life and posted the footage online. This horrifying incident has taught us all that cyber bullying can have deadly, devastating consequences, and we should all be taking action to make sure that it stops. The first step is to learn more about what cyber bullying is and how you can prevent it from happening to your family.
What is Cyber Bullying?
Cyber bullying occurs when an individual or group uses a cellphone, text messages, the Internet or any other kinds of electronic communication device to victimize, harass or intimidate others. It’s a malicious and hostile act that can happen to children, teens and adults and can have lasting damaging emotional consequences.
How Can I Keep My Children Safe from Cyber bullying?
• Educate Yourself: Sites like Guardchild have the latest information about what to watch out for. Learn how to recognize sexting language and find the latest, most effective software to keep you and your family safe from cyber bullying.
• Communication: Have a talk with your children about cyber bullying, and make sure you know who they’re in contact with in person, online and via their cell phone. They may not like the fact that you’re watching over them, but it could save their life. Sometimes, it’s more important to be your children’s parent, not friend.
• Technology: Purchase software that will track activity and will allow you to block suspicious users and unsafe or inappropriate content. Set up Google alerts to find out where your child’s name is being used, so that you know exactly what their online reputation is (in real time). You can’t solve or prevent a problem that you don’t know about, especially when kids don’t always speak up about it.
• Report It: Report intimidating language and material on sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace — they will be happy to help. If something seems off, keep track of phone records and Internet activity so that you can build your case. As soon as you or your child feel intimated by something that someone has posted online or texted to you, let the local authorities know so that it can stop before something worse happens.
What Are The Consequences?
The Victim: Cyber bullying doesn’t always end in words – it can end in physical and emotional harm. As the Rutgers’ tragedy has taught us, the consequences of cyber bullying on the victim can be deadly. No one deserves to be cyber bullied.
The Cyber Bully: The law is finally starting to catch up with technology, with more and more states putting laws on the books that specifically deal with cyber bullying. The consequences can involve prison time and a criminal record that will follow the bully wherever they go, which is why it’s important for all kids to watch what they do and say online.
If you discover that your child is bullying somebody else, put a quick end to it and have a chat with your kid about the consequences of that type of behavior. As the parent, you could be held financially liable for your child’s actions. Plans for college and a successful career could be ruined, and the emotional consequences for all involved can be seriously damaging.