This article was originally posted on the Huffington Post by Sue Scheff, one of our favorite parenting bloggers.
Wouldn't it be nice if there was a time when you could power up your electronics -- whether it's your iPad, tablet, PC or cell phone -- and not have to worry about any type of hostile content?
Internet trolls and cyberbullies never take vacations or summer breaks, and they don't recognize holidays.
This holiday season, as cyberbullying and bullying sadly continues, you can give your teens and kids the gift of cyber-armor!
We don't need more reminders of why we need cyber-education; names like Rebecca Sedwick, Amanda Todd, and Hannah Smith are just a few that can now live only in our memories.
Drs. Justin Patchin and Sameer Hinduja, founders of The Cyberbullying Research Center, have just launched their latest book, Words Wound: Delete Cyberbullying and Make Kindness Go Viral, Free Spirit Publishing, 2013.
Recently, I chatted with Dr. Sameer Hinduja about Words Wound, and it is clear he and Justin are very passionate about this book, which is creating a groundswell of conversations throughout schools, communities and families about cyberbullying. Knowledge is power and education is the key to prevention.
Here are some questions we discussed:
Q. What inspired you to write this book, and who do you expect the audience to be?
A. "We were inspired to write this book because of what we learned while spending a ton of time with teens of all ages, all around the nation over the last few years. The vast majority of them actually care, have really good hearts, and wish that bullying offline and online was not an issue -- but they just didn't know what to do about it. They have heard basic online safety advice from educators and parents, but nothing too complete, specific, relevant, relatable, or inspiring. So, we wanted to fill the gap, and do so in the most compelling and accessible way when considering that teens themselves were our audience. Adults can do (and are doing) their part all over the place. But we believe that what teens do is the answer to this problem. It will take a while, and it will be hard, but it is definitely doable (and we've seen it done in schools and communities across America)."
Q. There are many books about bullying and cyberbullying, why is Words Wound different?
A. "This the first book we know of that is written specifically for teens about cyberbullying. We believe it will resonate strongly with our primary audience, and also be appreciated by educators who can use the accompanying (free) Leader's Guide to cover each chapter while also providing and assigning class work, homework, and interesting activities -- and even formally assess (through our tools) how well students understood the material and made it their own. Very few books do that in this area, but it's so important to make sure that teens actually get it in order for change to really occur!"
Q. Why is this book so important for teens to receive, especially as a holiday gift?
A. "Parents should ABSOLUTELY give this book to their kids this holiday season. So often, we buy devices for our teens without also providing them with the skills and knowledge to use them wisely and positively, or how to healthily respond when they deal with hate, harassment, embarrassment, threats or other issues. Why??? That doesn't even make sense! Perhaps you don't have the time, and don't feel like you have the expertise to help your sons and daughters in this area. We believe that providing them with this book (and perhaps requiring its reading before getting to enjoy the new device!) can go a very long way in making sure they know exactly what to do to combat cruelty and promote kindness online. Plus, it's really affordable."
In previous articles and blog posts, I have written about how building and creating cyber-shields, as parents, teachers, peer to peer mentors and finally as a community can help strengthen us to combat bullying and cyberbullying -- instilling kindness and respect before we speak and type needs to become second nature in all we do. It starts at home and continues to the classroom into your child's future.
Now you have a tangible tool, use it! Be sure to add Words Wound to your teen's holiday list.
• Cyberbullying victims can share their stories on the Words Wound site.
• Get involved with being part of the change.
• Parents, you are your child's role model. Online and off. Lead by example.
• Have your ordered your cyber-armor yet? Don't delay -- it is important!
• Visit the Words Wound site for more valuable information.