November is National Bullying Prevention Month so we asked our guest bloggers—the winners of the BlogHer 2012 contest—to tell us what they think about bullying. They all agreed—bullying has to go!
Kerry Condy Duff, whose blog CEO of the House is popular amongst parents, tells us a compelling story about bullying that every parent should read. The online game her young son had been playing since he was small had added message boards. She didn’t know this until she was forced to get to the bottom of why her son was so often ill and wanting to miss school. What she found was that kids were posting hateful messages directed toward her son, calling him a loser and telling him everyone hates him – all on the message board of an innocent kids’ game he’d played since he was little. Small wonder he didn’t want to get up and go to school! Read Kerry’s story.
Jo White, who blogs on Mediamum.net, tells us to let our kids know that we want to team up with them. We’re not just holding them accountable for their online activities. She offers some great ways for parents to talk to their kids about bullying. Her tips include: “Friend slowly, block quickly. Learn how to block numbers and people on your phone, and don’t hesitate to do so.” To better understand bullying, parents can explain that, “Some people are still learning how best to use mobile and digital technologies, and they forget their manners. They may be testing some boundaries, or just seeing if they can get under your skin. Don’t question why they are doing it, become a blocker!” Here are Jo’s great tips for kids who may encounter online bullying:
- Don’t engage in a conversation with a bully. If any message makes you uncomfortable in any way, don’t bother trying to correct the sender, just block them from sending you more. It’s your phone, not theirs, and you are responsible for your reaction to inappropriate messages. Blocking them is not rude – the message that led to you blocking them was.
- Don’t hand your number out to everyone. If you wouldn’t want to have that person holding your hand through every day, then you don’t want to have them living in your pocket – which is where your smartphone lives. If you get messages from people you don’t know, don’t answer, just block them. If it happens regularly, talk to parents and then contact the service provider.
- Finally, Jo suggests that kids should feel free to blame mom or dad if they need to for blocking numbers. Read Jo’s blog.
Terriann Van Gosliga, our blogger at Cookies and Clogs, discusses how different cyber-bullying is compared with ‘old-fashioned’ bullying. In the past, kids could find healing and refuge at home, but with cell phones, they’re vulnerable 24/7. Not only can humiliating or threatening messages and photos be sent to dozens of people at a time, they can be repeatedly sent to the victim. This kind of harassment has even led to recent teen suicides we’ve seen in the news.
Terriann suggests we talk with our kids as soon as possible about bullying without over-reacting. Using a third-party app like NQ Mobile Family Guardian can take some of the responsibility from their shoulders, as well as protect them from hurtful experiences. Read Terriann’s story.
If you have stories to share about bullying, please join the discussion on our Facebook page, or comment on our blog. We’d love to hear from you!