Kids and technology can be a dangerous combination—and cyberbullying provides proof.
According to the “McGruff’s” National Crime Prevention Council, roughly 43 percent of teens have been cyberbullied—victims of cruel or embarrassing messages and photos sent via the Internet, cell phones or other technology. Their bullies often hide their true identities.
Data suggest that cyberbullied kids—some as young as 2nd graders—are up to nine times more likely to consider suicide, yet only one in 10 inform a parent or teacher of their abuse.
Good information to know, Mom and Dad…especially now. October is National Bullying Prevention Month. This awareness campaign, about virtual as well as in-person intimidation, was started in 2006 by the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Education Rights (PACER).
Also worth knowing: Parents can get a wealth of information on , how to and other
Here’s a guide to state anti-bullying laws and policies.
Along with smartphones, cyberbullying often occurs on social media websites—and Facebook recently announced it is testing a new pilot program with the to give educators a streamlined channel to report potential incidents on its website. Get more information at Facebook’s .
Other efforts continue, from local “grassroots” initiatives by schools and community leaders, to discussions about possible federal legislation.
Parents are urged by StopBullying.gov, a website jointly run by three federal agencies, to:
• Be aware of what your kids do online. Know which sites they visit, with whom they chat and text.
• Have an open dialogue about cyberbullying and other online dangers – including requests for personal information that could lead to identity theft or risk of malware from clicking on links promising screensavers, gifts or other products.
• Let them know as a parent, you may review their online communications…out of concern. Ask for their passwords and to “friend” or “follow” them on social media websites.
• Encourage them to report cyberbullying incidents – toward them or others – to you or teachers.
• Teach them to be tech-smart: What types of messages, photos and other information is safe (and unsafe) to post. With whom should they share?