The national media is hammering us almost daily with the ugly reality of the dangers facing our children on the Internet.
Some examples are the personal distribution of naked photographs by young adults, child pornography, and child predators. These all illustrate that the Internet can be a very dangerous place for children and young adults.
The Internet can also be dangerous to our children’s health and well being due to Internet bullying. The same abusive personalities that can make our children’s time at school, sports, or at play a living hell have shown their abusive nature on the Internet.
We need to discuss this problem with our children, develop strategies for managing this bullying and monitor the problem for more serious intervention, if necessary.
Let’s look at two variations of online bullying: e-mail abuse and instant messaging abuse.
When dealing with abusive e-mail, a parent needs to remember two important facts. The first fact is that your child doesn’t have to open the e-mail and that the delete button works wonders for eliminating the source of the problem. The second fact is that e-mails provide a permanent record of what was said and can be used to prove that the abusive conduct did occur.
You need to spend some time discussing online bullying with your children. Explain what it is and why it is improper. Let you kids know that they don’t have to open e-mails from abusive people, that you can close the e-mail when you find out it’s abusive, and you can delete it if you don’t want to save it as evidence of abusive behavior.
When dealing with instant messaging bullying, remember that your children have to play in order to be abused. If your child doesn’t interact with the bully, your child won’t allow the bully to feel powerful by intimidating your child.
Bullying is a complex event.
Here’s some advice for your child. Don’t feed into the bully’s abusive behavior. Don’t play. Don’t accept the message. Stop the conversation if it becomes abusive. Let your parent’s know. Just say no.
When dealing with e-mail or instant messaging bullies don’t accept the message and end it ASAP.