Bullying in the 21st Century is more often than not Cyberbullying; bullying will never be just ‘a fact of life’ nor a natural part of growing up.
“This is a dark, vicious side of adolescence, enabled and magnified by technology. Yet because so many horrified parents are bewildered by the technology, they think they are helpless to address the problems it engenders.”
Bullying in person is damaging enough. Bullying on the internet is particularly detrimental for several reasons: it can be more subtle -fleeting IM comments- and it can be more flagrant -manipulated photos on Facebook; it is enduring and relentless – kids keep going back to it, revisiting it, and are reminded of it over and over; and children often bear the shame in silence, without witnesses to intervene or help support them after incidents. Parents can’t as easily see what’s happening when their child is being bullied behind the computer screen as they can when they’re watching their kids play together on the field.
I struggle to keep up with technology and I’m a bit relieved when I find people, usually older than me, having a harder time than I am. Parents though no longer have the luxury of not keeping up. Staying cognizant of their child’s development and well-being now requires them to be tech-savvy, whether it’s reading their homework assignments and grades online or keeping up with their whereabouts by text.
Engaging children in conversation, helping them speak openly about their experiences in adolescence can lay the groundwork for them to come forward when they’re being bullied. Feeling empowered when things are going well will help them act empowered when things go poorly, like when a ‘friend’ calls them ‘a fat bitch’ on their Facebook profile.
If you are among the many who feel overwhelmed by the lightning speed of technology’s advances and you struggle to keep up to protect your children from cyberbullying, there are resources in your community, there are websites, and lectures, and meetings at your neighborhood school. If you need help finding them, please reach out and ask; you’ll be a model for your child, so when he or she needs help, they’ll know how to reach out and ask for it. Bullying is a crime and it is not ‘just part of growing up.’
The New York Times offers this impressive look at the struggle to keep up as the struggles and intricacies of childhood get played out in the social media and ever advancing technology.
As Bullies Go Digital, Parents Play Catch-Up by Jan Hoffman, published Dec. 4, 2010
Each of the underlined words above will lead you to a helpful website for more information. Please check them out.
Here are some links specific to anti-LGBT bullying:
GLSEN Anti-Bullying Resources GLSEN focuses on ensuring safe schools for all students.
The Trevor Project: Local Resources page The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
Or you can just click here to instantly google ‘anti-bullying resources.’