STUDENT SAFETY AND BULLYING
Bullying at school and other places of social interaction is not new. Many children face it in varying degrees at school, gym, park etc. Another even more destructive type of bullying is the online bullying that many children now face. The increasing popularity of social networking sites and internet chat rooms have made a number of children vulnerable to this form of bullying as well. The repercussions of online bullying are even more dangerous. As per www.stopcyberbullying.org “Cyber bullying” is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is plain and simple cyber-harassment or cyber stalking. Adult cyber-harassment or cyber stalking is NEVER called cyber bullying.
When bullying comes home via the Internet it can leave the victims feeling helpless and overwhelmed and might have other unpleasant effects on the child. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the parents and educators to ensure that every child is oriented on the issue of online safety. I agree to what most parents feel in article “When dad banned text messaging”. Being a father to two grown up children, I have often observed that both my daughter and son use internet and mobile phone technology to stay in constant touch with their friends. For them texting and online messaging is almost a form of language now .Like many children of their age they have become extremely dependent on these devices for social communication. It used to leave me irritated when my daughter would spend most of her time with her cell phone but now I try and explain her the issues it might involve with more patience than before.
(Source: Emotional stress)
The website http://www.opp.ca/ecms/files/250363910.6.pdf is very informative. I found the following points particularly relevant for understanding cyberbullying and helping children as parents and educators to create awareness about it.
Understanding Cyber bullying:
It can be seen as sending unwanted material, doubtable picture to us, displaying our personal information without our consent, torturing or rather blackmailing someone to reveal some kind of personal information.
How can we help children?
- Parents and teachers should immediately talk about this issue and hence make it a topic for open discussion. If we are with our children, they will feel secure in whatever step they take.
- Hence we should make an amendment to educate parents and children about this issue.
Cybercrime is growing at such an alarming rate that it leaves us with no option. In schools, almost at each and every stage, we should be teaching our children that whether unknowingly they are suffering from bullying.
I completely agree with the article Bullying Has Little Resonance with Teenagers when it states that most of the children don’t really understand what exactly “cyber bullying” is. They most of the times consider it as some sort of a physical abuse. Wrong or sarcastic comments are not considered as bullying amongst them. It is true that they feel bad when someone is harassing them emotionally and not only physically.
Once children understand what cyber bullying is they would be less vulnerable to it. Also at the same time it is imperative that they should know how to deal with the problem. Hence the topic becomes more complicated to handle. Schools (educators) should definitely take some steps towards it and the same goes for the parents as well.
1. Amending anti-bullying policies which include every possible bullying.
2. Educating students and parents about cyber bullying.
3. Talking to parents and informing them so as to contact whom if they find their children
4. Every bullying incident should be dealt with responsibly and never ignored.
Parent Solutions – If the child is being cyber bullied:
1. Making it comfortable for our children to talk to us about this topic.
2. Placing the computer at an open space which is visible to everyone.
3. Keeping the ISP (Internet Service Provider) informed of any such act .
4. Saving the messages for further evidence.
As technology advances and penetrates our society, it is important to be aware of its negative impact also and device solutions to counter these negative impact. Rational and justified utilization of technology is very important. And as parents and educators we have the responsibility to ensure that children do not become vulnerable to the unpleasant effects of these.