Cyber Bullies. These types of people have always existed. I’m curious to know if you’ve ever been bullied? I was. The worst of it was back in middle school in the 1970s. In those days we still had outside time, in essence, it was recess. But none of us called it that… “Recess” always sounded so little kiddish. Out in the schoolyard there was a few girls who never liked me. I’m not sure why exactly, but aside from being called names, I was also punched and kicked quite often, for whatever reason.
If I knew the reason then, I certainly don’t remember it now.
Those experiences, even though I don’t recall the reasoning, very much shaped my life. It dramatically lowered my self esteem and it was the beginning of 40 years of falling for the wrong people. People who I allowed to treat me badly.
Talking About Bullying is Paramount
When I was young and getting bullied, I never told my parents and I told a teacher only once, because their advice was more than unhelpful. I was told to “toughen up and ignore them.” As it turns out, research today shows situations like telling the bully to stop and pretending it’s not happening can actually make the situation worse.
It may help your child to know that even grown ups can be cyber bullied and hopefully, in knowing this, it will help your child to be able to report it to you. As a matter of fact, there are many celebrities who’ve been cyber bullied, which, unfortunately, often forces them off of particular social media sites. Some of celebrities who’ve been cyber bullied are:
Ed Sheeran, singer:
In an interview, he made a comment in which Lady Gaga fans interpreted him as saying he disliked her. Those fans went on to say, what Ed calls, “very mean things that were ruining his day,” and were upsetting him very much. Very soon following, Lady Gaga made a statement in his defense. It turns out Ed decided not to quit the social media sites because he and his father had conversations there, but he stopped reading all the other posts.
Normandi Kordei :
Fifth Harmony singer and you may know her from being a Dancing With the Stars contestant: Normandi was cyber bullied with comments saying things like she “isn’t black enough,” as well as many other racially charged comments. Normandi also says many people had said “some of the most rabid and disgusting” things about women’s bodies and hers in particular.
Daughter of the late Robin Williams: After her father’s death, Zelda reports social media users verbally attacked her and even went so far as to send her photos of a dead man lying in a morgue who resembled her father.
Actor from the hit tv show, Walking Dead: Josh says that because of his character, Eugene’s role on the show, he received comments of extreme hatred toward him and even death threats. He says people were unable to differentiate between a character on television and Josh’s real life.
Actress and daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore: On the morning television show, Megyn Kelly Today, on September 27, 2017, Rumer talked openly about being cyber bullied.
What is Bullying?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) defines bullying as “any unwanted aggressive behavior by another youth or group of youths involving an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm. A young person can be a perpetrator, a victim, or both.”
What’s missing in the above description is the fact that bullying occurs to people of any age. And today’s technology brings on another whole host of ways people are bullied. Cyber bullying. It’s so incredibly prominent and cyber bullying includes, not only bullying done through social media channels, but in using any electronic source, such as through text or via email as well.
It is very easy to write things to a person who simply is a name on the screen or at the other end of the line.
Understanding The Need To Be A Bully
One might think bullies have a strong sense of themselves, they probably feel superior and that bullies are just highly opinionated and mean people. What we may not know is bullies actually feel so bad about themselves that breaking someone else down is a way for them to attempt to make themselves feel superior.
It is difficult, perhaps, to look at it this way but bullies are very much hurting inside. I know, most bullies think it’s funny. Don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying we shouldn’t do everything in our power to stop bullying from occurring. As a matter of fact, research shows being bullied, as well as being a bully, can cause an increased risk of problems in their future, such as academic issues, substance abuse, violent behavior, as well as mental health problems. And both the bully and their victims have an increased risk of suicide. We need to provide empowered assistance to both the bullies and the bullied.
Over 50% of teens have been cyber bullied… And only about 10% of those kids will talk to a parent about it. Something cyber bullies don’t keep in mind is there’s consequences. Once bullying comments are made online, it’s practically impossible to completely remove all its traces, which can affect the person doing the bullying for life, even if they’ve apologized to the other person.
These days, prospective colleges are searching online for these occurrences, as are employers. Bullies can face legal charges, and in the situation of “sexting” (which means transmitting naked or inappropriate words or photos), bullies can face the possibility of legally being a labeled as a sex offender.
My Experience as a Parent
My 11 year old son son wanted to play an online game his friends were playing called Runescape. He and I had a long discussion about the privileges and problems of what playing a game where people from all over the world and all ages are playing. It is a tender subject, but I explained about pedophiles by telling him about people posing as youngsters and how incredibly patient they are in order to cause you harm.
I told him these people will befriend you and wait to start asking personal type questions, like your real and full name, address, telephone number, email address and so much more. I told him the only “friends” on the game he was allowed to have were his personal friends from school.
We discussed his password and that I was the only other person who will know it and that I would be going on the game under his password to check up on him. (I also emphasized if there was ever a time I tried to get onto his game and he’d changed the password, he’d be grounded.) We also talked about cyber bullying and what he was to do if it happens (don’t respond, save the comment and tell me immediately).
And lastly, I explained that the only way he could play the game was that I would be playing the game as well. After our very long talk together, I actually drew up a contract and the not we talked about what signing a contract means.
What you can do:
1. Know what sites your child visits. Tell them you will be going onto their accounts. Tell them it’s your job, as a parent, to know what they’re doing and protect them.
2. Always know your child’s passwords.
3. Explain to them the privileges and safety measures that come with being online and having access to the sites you’re allowing them to visit.
4. Set up parental controls, but don’t rely on parental controls alone.
5. Add your children to your “friends” or “follow” lists.
6. Explain to them about cyber bullying and what they’re to do if it does happen (don’t respond, keep the message and tell you immediately.)
7. Block the bullies
8. If a friend of your child communicates to them that they’ve been being bullied in some way, encourage your child to tell you. Also tell your child to encourage their friend to tell their own parents, teachers or school counselors.
9. Always keep the lines of communication with your children open. In order to expect them to be open and honest with you, you also need to be open and honest with them. In sharing things with your children and risking some of your own vulnerabilities, you actually make them feel much more comfortable in sharing their vulnerabilities with you.