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Cyberbullying and Youth Part Two
This is Part Two of a series that started last week.
As a result of the explosion of technological and communicative tools, it is no surprise that some youths decide to misuse such great tools by being malicious to others. Youths are often connected to technology 24/7 which make them susceptible to victimisation (as well as to become bullies) across all geographic boundaries. The Internet was intended to have a positive impact on the world, to be a great benefit to students by enhancing education and improving their quality of life.
Nevertheless, under the cloak of anonymity, many misuse, abuse the technology to bully others without considering its effects. There are, however, effective measures and practical solutions that parents, schools and students can adopt to tackle this relatively new phenomenon.
Parents need to be the ones youths can go to when things go wrong online and offline. Yet they are the ones young people avoid because parents overreact, and youths fear that they will make things worse. Although parents cannot protect their children from everything, there is still much they can do to assist. Parents need to be supportive and understanding about cyberbullying incidents; discuss cyberbullying with their children; deal with the incident consistently; watch out for any abnormal behaviour/mood change; and take complaints from their child seriously.
Parents should also try to ascertain what meaning their child takes from any bullying they may experience; check whether the child retaliates to bullying; discuss how and when the bullying has occurred; assist the child to identify the bullying behaviour of others; help their child feel confident to walk away from bullying situations; and inform them to avoid responding to bullying by opening e-mails, sending bullying comments, etc.
Additionally, parents should also suggest to block the bully or remove them from their friends’ list, change their child’s online username and password, file a complaint to the Web site manager, notify the school/education authorities, report the incident to the police, encourage their child to spend some time away from the computer/mobile devices and follow up after their child tries a solution to find out what is working for them.
Parents should also increase other positive experiences to build their child’s resilience and self-esteem by highlighting their strengths, reassuring them that they are loved and valued, involve them in decision-making, create opportunities for them to expand their support networks, enjoyment and interest.
Schools can promote a culture of mutual respect and tolerance or appreciation of diversity within the school system and begin educating students, parents and staff about cyberbullying and its effects. The school should also inform students that cyberspace is not really anonymous as their behaviours and comments are downloadable and printable.
Schools should also have cyberbullying policies explained in the school’s policy handbook; establish rules about technology use; educate the students on responsible use of the Internet and block social media sites; monitor e-mail, Internet/ mobile use.
Schools must take the issue seriously, recognise the signs, ask other students who may be aware to report it, respond the incident immediately, respond using a disciplinary approach and hold bullies responsible, encourage communication and openness among staff and students, inform parents and contact law enforcement agencies.
Students/youths should also take precautions and make efforts to educate themselves on proper Internet etiquette and responsible technological device usage. This includes proper use of e-mails, texts, posts, etc. When sending a message, they should be courteous, respectful to others online, think before posting, pay attention to language/intonation issues, and keep personal information (password, login name, birthdate, address, phone number, videos, family photos, etc) private/confidential.
Youths can also educate themselves about cyberbullying, be an active bystander and report the issue if they witness it to parents/teachers; do not spend long hours using Internet; protect their own privacy; do not share secrets or engage in bullying. If they are a victim of cyberbullying, ignore it but do not turn off the technological device; seek immediate advice and assistance from an adult and report it immediately; keep evidence of cyberbullying; do not respond to it or forward the messages.
Keep in mind that thousands of teens are cyberbullied daily but remember they are not alone in their plight, stay strong be positive and act smart.
Cyberbullying has emerged as a serious issue in education. Youths are able to bully others through the use of technologies and it is rapidly becoming an epidemic in more subtle and prevailing forms within the nation’s schools. As a result, schools, parents and students need to assertively confront this problem by effective measures and practical solutions to tackle this relatively new phenomenon. After all, it is not about the technology, but people’s behaviour and attitude that need to be changed.
The Caribbean Institute for Security and Public Safety offers a wide range of short training programmes for teachers, social workers, guidance counselors, law enforcement, security personnel and other public safety officers in almost 100 subject areas. These are done at its scheduled classes or in-house at organisations. Contact us at 223-6999, [email protected] or www.caribbeansecurityinstitute.com.
Guest Writer, CISPS
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