Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How to Protect Your Children from 21st Century Bullying

            With the beginning of a new school year, it is important to prepare your children to face and deal with any potential type of bullying. It is important to recognize, however, that bullying doesn’t just take place at school or on the playground. Social media has opened up all sorts of opportunities for negative interactions among children and for children and teens to bully one another. According to the Pew Research Internet Project, more than half of teens have reported witnessing instances of cyber-bullying.

Experts from Bullying suggest that the best way parents can help protect their children from any type of bullying is to be aware of the potential sources of bullying. Parents need to understand and strive to prevent negative influences at school, on the playground,  and on social media.  Parents need to be aware of the types of bullying that are a potential threat for their children.

Parents should start by looking for signs that their children may be a target of bullying, not only at school and on the playground, but also online.  Such signs include a child who seems withdrawn, doesn’t display a normal desire to interact with others, or exhibits sudden and extreme changes in behavior.

It is important to note that increased technology has not only provided additional outlets for bullies, it also has decreased traditional communication between children, such as talking, socializing, and problem-solving face to face. The consequence of this is a tragic loss of communication. Parents can begin to address such issues by teaching their children how to problem-solve and brainstorm together with other children in an attempt to restore some of the normal communication skills that have been negatively impacted through online social media.

To deter negative online interactions, parents should advise their children to resist the temptation to respond to an online bully. Teach children that it is better not to retaliate. Instead, save any evidence of online bullying and use online privacy tools and settings to block the bully.

Additional tips for children, parents, and teachers for dealing with the bullying dilemma are outlined in my book, The Bully and the Booger Baby: A Cautionary Tale. The book can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million.

Useful resources for helping children, parents, and teachers deal with bullying can also be found at my book website, Melissa Harker Ridenour Books.

Picture credit: Nevit Dilmen

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