Cybersecurity – Nip it in the Bully!

Bully1alamy_2225842bMy son happened to mention to me one day in 4th grade, that a friend of his was always telling him what to do. Eventually this friend began threatening him when he didn’t do what he wanted. One day the friend told my son he was going to shoot him, and showed him some bullets that he had. Eventually the friend began to get physical with him. I say “friend” because it was a little boy that I actually let him visit and play with after school. I began giving my son “permission” to fight back. It’s a little trickier dealing with psychological abuse, but when someone starts to hit you, you have the right to defend yourself. I told my son that if someone hits first, you have the right to hit back. My son was afraid of going to the principle’s office. I told him that if he gets sent there, that I would be right there defending him (he would not get in trouble with me). It gave my son the confidence he needed. I also told him that if you stick up for yourself just one time, in front of everyone, no one would bother you again! It worked. One kick in the chins, and no one bothered him again. In fact, he began sticking up for other kids!

Most of the time bullying scenarios don’t turn out this way, and not every parent will encourage their child to fight. I happened to know the child, and his older sibling situation well enough to lead my son in this direction. Most of the time parents aren’t even aware of what’s going on.

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. (stopbullying.gov)

October is Cyber Security Awareness month.
It’s a time to promote online safety awareness among all Americans and reinforce the simple measures everyone should take to be safer and more secure online and to understand that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility amongst us all. In the last few years, we’ve seen an overwhelming increase in bullying due to the internet, but bullying is not new. Everyday 1 out 4 kids are bullied, and the numbers are rapidly growing for Cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.

Here are some harrowing statistics:

  • 77% of students are bullied mentally, verbally, & physically. Cyberbullying statistics are rapidly approaching similar numbers, with 43% experiencing cyberbullying.
  • Of the 77% of students that said they had been bullied, 14% of those who were bullied said they experienced severe (bad) reactions to the abuse.
  • 1 in 5 students admit to being a bully, or doing some “Bullying.”
  • Each day 160,000 students miss school for fear of being bullied.
  • 43% of kids fear harassment in the bathroom at school.
  • 100,000 students carry a gun to school. (Unbelievable!)

You can help support this month’s awareness and prevent Cyberbullying by taking these simple steps with your children:

  • Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities. Ask where they’re going, what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with. Keep the computer in a public area.
  • Tell your kids that as a responsible parent you may review their online communications if you think there is reason for concern.
  • Have a sense of what they do online and in texts. Learn about the sites they like. Try out the devices they use.
  • Ask for their passwords, and keep them accountable by telling them that although you respect their privacy, you have the right to check their computer or device at anytime.
  • Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites or ask another trusted adult to do so.
  • Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyberbullied. Explain to them that confidentiality is of the utmost importance, and will be handled accordingly.
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