Recently two mothers told me stories about how their daughters were being bullied at their middle schools. One mother told me about a new social media web site becoming popular here in the US where it allows you to ask questions and post things anonymously is called ask.fm. I looked into Ask.fm this site is quite dangerous and there are numerous reports on this subject. Also this site is directly linked to the recent death in Florida of the12 year old Rebecca Ann Sedwick. The mother that I talked with reported that her daughter had been using this site until she was harassed. While researching I found other sites parents should be aware of like formspring and kik messenger. These sites have similar issues with cyber bullying.
The other mother told me her daughter was getting rude text messages from a boy at her school asking for “compromising photos” of her daughter. Her daughter feared to walk alone in the hallways to the point the mother took the phone and called the boy back and asked to speak to the parents.
Then I heard that the recent shooting at a school in Nevada where a teacher and students were killed was because the young boy was bullied until he could not take it anymore.
Now I understand kids have been teasing each other for years. When I was I young child, I was told “Sticks and stones can break your bones but words will never hurt you”. However, the difference is these comments are so damaging, they do hurt, they don’t just go away now. They stay causing emotional, physical and sometimes permanent harm because they don’t just stay at school.
At home, there are text-capable cell phones and instant messaging on computers and these private messaging sites and certain children use them in harmful ways. Years ago, when we were children and if there was bullying going on at school, you went home to your family and the bullying stays there. Now, kids today can’t get away from it and it effects their home life, their work at school and all this abuse from their peers effects them to the breaking point where they do unthinkable things from taking a gun to school to committing suicide. Some of these things are suggested or pushed by those same bullies.
The internet is not a place for children to have unsupervised access at such a young age. Parents need to be aware of these sites and talk to their children. There is a wonderful website for parents, children and educators called cyberbullying.us. Parents and teachers alike need to be more involved in what our children are doing online. There needs to be regular communication to parents, teachers and staff about the bullying program in our schools in order to have it fully implemented.
Children also need to know who or where they can find a safe person in the school to tell when there is a bullying issue. A place they know they will be taken seriously and made to feel safe.