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Parents Fighting Cyber Bullying: Helping Your Child Overcome

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

In a harsh, new world full of technology and modern media, our kids are facing all new challenges unlike parents have ever seen before. In the past, even on a bad day, a child could leave the school yard behind and feel safe and protected within their own homes. But with modern technology and social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, a harassed child can feel as though there isn't a safe place to turn or escape to. With the electronic world around them, cyber bullying and harassment can now follow them into their own bedroom.

Children, especially teenagers, have a habit of trying to keep their life and issues to themselves, away from their parents, for a sense of independence and self-sufficiency. With constant bombardment and altercation, though, it's easy for even the most self confident teenager to become overwhelmed. That is when your child needs know not only that it's okay to turn to you with their issues, but that it's detrimental that they do.

As a parent, it's hard to watch your child have to go through the constant onslaught of verbal bashing and bullying. The first step towards helping your son or daughter overcome their bullying, though, is to get them to confide in you and seek out your advice and support. Too often teens become too embarrassed or proud to turn to their parents with issues, but for nothing more than their own emotion sake, it's important to nurture that relationship and sense of understanding to get them to open up.

Another important step for parents to take is to look into actively monitoring and blocking messages, emails, or any other internet contact from the bully at hand. Many parents would immediately seek to just cut off their teens access to social media and the internet altogether. All this does is create a barrier between your teen and yourself, making them unwilling to divulge in the future: they feel as though they're being punished for telling the truth. There are tracking programs, such as Cyber Nanny and Safe Eyes, that will allow you to monitor anyone who your child is interacting with, and will actually allow you to block certain names and addresses from communicating with your child. One of the key ways to combat cyber bullying is by not responding, and by not even seeing the slander, your children will be fighting two birds with one stone.

It is important for parents to discuss the issues at hand with their children, get an understanding about how they feel about the matter, and then decide, together, if they feel it would be a benefit to discuss the situation with an administrator at the school. Much like simply cutting off a child's access to the internet, but charging head first into a school and consulting an administrator or teacher about the issue at hand, without including the child, a wedge can be driven between you two. Your child may feel that you have broken a sort of trust that was to be kept between you two. Communicate with your child and discuss the possible benefits and consequences of bringing and issues to the attention of the school. Blocking of messages should be handled first, though, before bringing in administration. The school cannot control students' internet use off campus, and once confronted by authority, the bullying may get worse if it's still able to reach your child.

Lastly, help your child increase their own confidence and awareness by helping them to take a stand against the issue at large. It's important for a bullied child to understand that they're not alone and that the abuse is not personal, but rather a much larger issue at hand. Once the personal aspect can be removed, support your child in becoming a student leader and voice in the community against the issue. Help your child stand up against the issue and turn it into a cause. With the strength and rally behind them they will have the additional resources they need to hopefully rise above and over the issue, and to even make a difference in the lives of other bullied youth around them.

Too many children have been hurt and lives have been lost due to lack of action. When parents help their children combat the trauma, rather than "ignore it," they are able to not only save their children from its effects, but they also fight the issue at large. The more youth leaders that we create the more lives that can be saved, because they go on to help those around them with the same support that you gave to them.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Parents Fighting Cyber Bullying: Helping Your Child Overcome

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