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Friday, July 15, 2011

Cyberbully


Fw: [Fwd: FW: Fw: just for you]
  If you send this to 20 friends in 15 minutes, you will find $15,000 in your mailbox this week.  If you don’t, bad luck will befall on you by three pm tomorrow.
We’ve all received these emails and text messages.  I suppose they were created to give unrealistic hope, but usually they just provide guilt- that feeling that makes you want to forward it on because the text says you must.  I see the way my 12 year old daughter frets over these messages.  She worries that she will hurt the feelings of the one who sent it, but then doesn’t wish to make her other friends feel the way she did when she opened that message.  Some of these spark fear with promises of bad luck if the message gets deleted but, for the most part, they are simply nuisances.  I wonder if these notes act as a precursor to the more serious ones: The Cyberbully messages.

“ i know what u did. im gonna tell.”    ”I H8 U. UR SUCH A SKANK”    ”everyone knows what U R- a bad person & a liar”



 These are precisely the kinds of messages the [Delete] Digital Drama campaign is trying to fight.  They have partnered with ABC and Seventeen Magazine to bring the public a made for TV movie to be aired on ABC Family this Sunday.  The problem is real; praise to this campaign for raising awareness.A grown up evil twin of spreading rumors on the school bathroom wall, the messages can get much, much worse.  All of a sudden our children are faced with a new monster we probably never saw coming.  It is a passive-aggressive brute that resides in cyber space.  This is so much more than a schoolyard bully.  This tyrant is inescapable, often anonymous, and constantly creating fear.

  • The Cyberbullying Research Center gathered these statistics:

            *Over 80 percent of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most popular form of technology and a common medium for cyber bullying
            *About half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly
            *Mean, hurtful comments and spreading rumors are the most common type of cyber bullying
            *Girls are at least as likely as boys to be cyber bullies or their victims
            *Boys are more likely to be threatened by cyber bullies than girls
            *Cyber bullying affects all races
            *Cyber bullying victims are more likely to have low self-esteem and to consider suicide.

    Cyber bullying can take many forms.  It can be through text message, email, social media, etc.  It can involve threats, or rumors or spreading pictures of an unflattering or suggestive nature.  Many who choose this venue for bullying believe it to be humorous.  What they don’t realize is that messages sent in this way can live for years.  They can haunt all those involved well into adulthood, resurfacing when applying for college and jobs, only to reopen wounds.  If the messages are of a sexual nature, then the wrongdoer can even become a registered sex offender. The affect it can have on the victim can be more damaging than they might also expect.  These threats and rumors can be destructive to a persons’ self-esteem, causing a child to withdraw from friends, live in fear and maybe even take their own life.  The sad story of Megan Meier resonates.  She was a 13-year-old girl who befriended a boy online; or so she thought.  The “boy” was really a vindictive neighbor who created a phony account in order to “mess with” Megan.  The result was the death of her.
    There are ways to help prevent cyber bullying so something as tragic as Megan’s story never happens again.
     Talk with your children about cyber bullying so you are all on the same page.  Let them know that you will never think less of them if they receive these messages.
  • Make it a rule that they will never send any damaging messages.  If they wouldn’t say it out loud in front of adults, they shouldn’t put it out in cyber space.
  • Teach them that it is never a good idea to share personal information with someone they don’t know.  Also, the photo and the information that a person shares with them may not be true.
  • If any cyber bully messages are received, they should be saved (but never responded to) in case they need to be viewed later as proof.
  • Parents should know all passwords and have access to any of the teenagers’ accounts.  Computers with internet should only be used in public areas of the home such as a family room.
  • Go to [Delete] Digital Drama resources
  • Add a Twibbon your Twitter and Facebook accounts
  • Watch Cyberbully starring Emily Osment on ABC Family on Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 8/7 central  -together.


XO, Ami

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