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51% of Children Experience Cyber Bullying

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Cyber bullying has been a topic of much discussion over the past several years, but most parents still don’t realize that it has likely affected their children directly.  A recent study conducted by the Palacky University Education Facility surveyed over 21,000 children at 4000 schools and found that a full 51% of kids have reported being bullied.

This startling revelation should concern parents, and since the vast majority of kids don’t report this type of activity to an adult it is important to take preemptive steps to protect children.  The level of cyber bullying varies from case to case, with some kids being constantly harassed and others being only occasional victims.  The impact of even occasional bullying, however, can be quite traumatic on children and cause a variety of damaging effect.

Parents need to learn how to discover whether or not their children are involved with cyber bullying either as the victim or the bully.  Once parents are aware of it they can often take steps to minimize the damage or prevent their children from bullying others.

Discovering Online Bullying

When trying to learn whether or not a child is involved with online bullying it is important to take a very proactive approach.  While asking kids about it directly is a good first step, they often won’t want to talk about it and may even try to cover it up.  Instead, going right to their computers or mobile devices to investigate is a much more direct approach which can produce better results.

When looking for evidence of cyber bullying it is essential to know where this type of activity typically takes place.  There are a few common ways people bully others or get bullied online:

  • Social Networks – A large percentage of all cyber bullying is done through Facebook and other social networks.  It could be as simple as making hurtful comments on pictures or actively harassing them on their profile page.   While one comment might just be friends giving each other a hard time, multiple comments or posts from one individual might be an indication of a problem.
  • Texting – Harassing others through text messages is quite common as well.  This can be harder to discover because children often delete the texts to hide any embarrassment of being bullied.  Reviewing the text history online with companies like Vodafone is a fast and easy way to discover whether or not kids are deleting texts.
  • E-Mail – Harassment through e-mail is growing in popularity because of the fact that it is so difficult to track down who it is sending the hurtful messages.  There are thousands of free online email sites which make anonymity very easy to attain.
  • Chat Programs – There are a seemingly endless number of online chat programs which allow people to type to each other without sharing their names.  This is another place where many people can harass others or get harassed.

If cyber bullying is discovered it is important to talk openly with children and let them know that it is nothing to be embarrassed about.  Teaching them how to handle it and how to avoid it can not only protect them today but provide important coping skills for the rest of their life.

[Photograph by Stuart Pilbrow]

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