Parents Prevent Cyberbullying This Summer
As millions of students across the country are being
released for summer vacation the opportunities for
Cyberbullying and harassment increases.
The dynamics of the family structure are that parents
are working either a full time job, longer hours at work,
a full time and part time job. These hours away from
children are times where there is a lack of parental
guidance and monitoring. This opens doors for the use
and abuse of Social Media platforms by students.
Students are using more Social Media tools to stay in
contact with friends, to stay connected and in the know.
Students are very social creatures and interactive.
Being “Social Creatures” is not a new thing: humans are
the most social creatures on Earth. Writings such as
from Leakey, (1978) have stated that, “The emerging
human mind now evolved to fit its cultural niche, to
survive as a social creature.” Technology contributes to
social interactions both good and bad.
The chances for Bullying are not diminished over summer
breaks, in fact they can actually grow because many
students have their own Smart phones, tablets, hand-held
devices that connect to the Internet, even video gaming
platforms connect to Social Media sites and parents are not
readily available to provide guidance and monitoring.
The seriousness of Cyberbullying nationwide are the results
of growing numbers of youth and teens committing suicide
because of constant taunting, harassment and demeaning
character destruction. When youth and teens feel isolated,
rejected and turned away it derails the emotional and
psychological stability of young people. Young people are
social creatures, their lives are built around their friends and
activities that provide a foundation of social growth, social
interactivity and that establishes a “place of existence” in life.
Recent studies like:
“Social Animals: Who’s Sharing What and Why Online?”have
shown that “It’s becoming a form of seamless integration
with users’ lives; it’s always with them.” Cate Riegner, Vice
President of Brand Insights and co-founder of Netpop Research.
Technology is not just made of electronic connections; it has
an overwhelming human and personal connectivity. That
connectivity can be seen as positive in nature or have
This year Florida Governor Rick Scott addressed several
issues related to schools. Bills take on Cyber-bullying,
the expansion of its definition, House Bill 609 expands the
schools authority on how to take action for Cyber-bullying,
expanding the definition of bullying and harassment. There
are many perceptions of Bullying and Cyberbullying, consistant
definitions are important to address how to deal with issues
at school and in the community. Students are spontaneous
and when they put things on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr in
many cases it is a spur of the moment impulse. If there are
high emotions from anger and embarrassment there could
be threats from physical harm to emotional harm. These new
laws help to regulate the more serious aspects of digital
Bullying/Cyberbullying. Gov. Scott understands the seriousness
and implications of digital actions. These actions by students
do create a distraction at schools that affect the learning
environment. Resulting in actions that may transition to
physical violence. In the recent extreme Bullying cases violence
happening, resulting in hospitalizations and court actions as
is being seen in Jacksonville, Florida, Chicago, Detroit and
other cities that have Bullying cases.
The upcoming 2013 – 2014 school year will see an increase
in students using online resources. Students will have additional
access to school networks either traditional or wireless. Schools
are allowing BYOD Bring Your Own Device to schools so
teachers must be more aware.
In too many cases parents either do not know what their children
are doing or don’t bother in investigate further if their
child tells them they are doing research or studying. Parents
must be proactive and involved when their children are using
online resources. There is not just access to Cyberbullying,
but CyberPorn, CyberStalking and other activities dangerous
to youth and teens. Even the growing case of human trafficking
where Social Media is used to lure girls and boys
into the world of child pornography and as sex slaves.
Cyberbullying (HB 609): will expand the influence of Florida’s public
schools to investigate and discipline students for Cyberbullying
conducted through the use of a school computer. Further actions
through the assistance of law enforcement can be conducted
when a student is Cyberbullying from home. The Florida legislation
defines “cyberbullying” as harassment through the use of computers,
technology or electronic communications.
The pervasiveness of technology is such that nationally there
are a growing number of states passing new laws and schools are
creating new policies and procedures to handle not just Cyberbullying,
but Sexting, Cyberporn and Cyberstalking.
The foundation of these actions is parental responsibility
and accountability, to have parents monitor, question,
investigate and in extreme cases turn off or deny the use
of electronic devices if the parent/child trust has been
violated and laws broken.
In a recent workshop for Journey Into Womenhood (JIW) students
conducted skits concerning Bullying actions, reactions,
preventions and avoiding physical threats. In these young
ladies early lives they have been Bullied, harassed,
Cyberbullied and threatened. The Florida legislature
has taken a much needed step in further preventing and
decreasing the opportunities for Cyberbullying in Florida
The next element is parental knowledge and proactively
being involved in monitoring or censoring what children
are exposed to in online worlds.
Bullying Skits from I Will Survive Bullying
“Journey Into Womanhood,”
Bullying Prevention Skits
Workshop participation by JIW girls and young ladies: