In light of the recent tragic suicide of Rebecca Sedwick, after being tormented through social media from children ages 12 – 14 and the subsequent arrest of the 14 year old who has allegedly spearheaded the bullying, we at KidSafe Foundation will continue the fight to prevent such tragedies through education of both children and parents.
Are you asking yourself if this could happen to your child? Are you asking yourself if your child could be a part of a group that causes such pain to another child?
These are questions that all parents need to be asking themselves – the first step in prevention is awareness. Once you understand that ALL children are vulnerable, you can better address the issues and have open ended dialogue with your children and teens.
Use this tragedy, to listen to your children. Ask them what they think and know about cyberbullying? Have them tell you the stories they hear. Don’t judge… just listen. Ask them how they feel about Rebecca committing suicide. Ask them how they think Rebecca’s mom is feeling. Tell them that no matter how terrible you might feel with challenges that will arise in life there are always people who love you, will help you and that suicide is not a choice.
Open the dialogue about cyberbullying before it becomes an issue so that if your child is struggling they will know that you can handle the topic. So what is cyberbullying? Harassment and bullying that takes place through any type of technology.
- Spreading rumors/gossip
- Threatening someone via text, IM, Email, Facebook, anonymous sites, any technology
- Hurtful comments, threats and rumors through Social networking sites
- Stealing passwords
What can teens and parents do?
- Do not respond to messages that are hurtful, rude, or offensive
- Don’t retaliate
- Save messages that could be used by law enforcement as evidence.
- Teens – Talk to your trusted adults – these issues are complicated and adults need to give you support and guidance to get through it successfully
- Teens (and adults) If you see it happening to someone else – be an upstander, not a bystander
- Block the bully
- If anything makes you uncomfortable or confused. REPORT!!!
- Use strong passwords and keep them confidential even from your best friend.
- Report bullying to the authorities – both the school as well as the police.
- Please share this information with family, friends and your community. The more we talk openly about the dangers and how to combat them, the safer our children will be.
For more information www.kidsafefoundation.org