Bullying and cyberbullying are two of the most serious issues you will face in raising your children. These behaviors pose an immediate threat to your child's safety and if they are not handled swiftly they can cause long-term psychological damage that can affect everything from their personal relationships to their performance in school. Fortunately, parents, educators, and counselors across America are responding to these behaviors with some new and innovative approaches.
Leading the way, the federal government created Stopbullying.gov. Essentially, this is a one-stop shop of tools and resources where parents and educators can search for information that they can use at home, at school, and within their own communities. This fantastic resource provides information on how to recognize bullying, how to respond when it is discovered, and how to prevent it from reoccurring in the future.
While resources such as this have been extremely helpful in providing communities with support and information, some states have decided to take their anti-bullying and anti-cyberbullying efforts even further. This past year, the State of Delaware began considering legislation that would make it mandatory for schools in the state to report bullying and cyberbullying.
They've also introduced measures that make it possible for individuals to report instances of bullying directly to the Attorney General's office. While on the surface these measures appear to be extremely beneficial, there are legitimate concerns. Among them, proponents of the 1st amendment argue that the definitions of what constitutes bullying and cyberbullying are so broad that they threaten to restrict free speech. There are also a number of concerned parents, teachers, and even children who fear that the bullies themselves could game the system by submitting false reports against those whom they are bullying.
Regardless of whether or not this legislation becomes law, it has furthered the discussion and increased the awareness of the problem. From our perspective, that is the first step to stopping the cycle of bullying that many children are quietly facing on a daily basis, and from that standpoint, this discussion is already generating valuable information that teachers, parents, and children will be able to use in their efforts.
Finally, it would be negligent not to examine the nexus where most bullying and cyberbullying is taking place in our modern world. Without question, Facebook is the playground of the digital bully, and it is there where the battle is being fought, and it is being fought fiercely. As more and more children gain access to the network, they are being exposed to a world that is vastly larger than their own communities. In the past, a child's bully might be the kid in the back of the classroom where a teacher, parent, or classmate could easily step in. Now, the bully might live on another continent.
To that end, Facebook has introduced several new reporting measures to help protect children from cyberbullies. These reporting features include the following:
Children can report comments as:
Violent or Harmful
Furthermore, children, parents, and teachers can also:
Block their bullies from seeing or contacting them online.
Privately contact the offender and ask them to politely to remove their comments.
Seek help from Facebook's Family Safety Center.
Ultimately, bullying and cyberbullying will be issues that will never go away. However, by taking steps now, we will mitigate the damage it can cause and give our children the tools and the confidence they will need to stand up to it in the future.
If you want more information on cyberbullying, download our free eBook entitiled "10 Essential Things Parents Need to Know About Cyberbullying."