Summer break is almost over and the excitement of going back to school may be different for some students. Many will be excited to be back with their friends, showing off their new clothes, joining clubs, groups, and sports teams. However, for others, the thoughts of going back to school will conjure up panic and anxiety, not with angst about strict teachers or tests but that of *cyberbullying.
*Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.
Students today are walking around with Smartphones which contain access to more knowledge than any generation before them however, many are using this technology for evil and not good.
Students may feel trapped because inside the walls of those schools they are confronted by others who are using their smartphone as a dumb device. As a matter of fact a few years ago at a High School in Delaware, a beautiful young lady was brutally beaten in the bathroom and she ultimately died from her injuries.
Did any of those friends or so-called friends call 911 with their smartphones no? Instead, some chose to video and send it out on social media, they chose to use their smartphone as a dumb device and put that ignorance on blast as this young lady lost her life in a bathroom brawl.
Someone, anyone, everyone should have said, stop, left the restroom to get an adult, a teacher a cop or even simply dialed 911 but instead, some decided that the hits on social media were more important than the blows in the bathroom
One thing that my grandmother always taught me was “if you can’t say something good don’t say anything at all!” But in today’s society that seems to have gone by the wayside. Not only are our students using social media to criticize, ostracize and alienate others, but our politicians are doing the same – they think others are beneath them because they don’t look, act or even think the same as they do – it’s sad – if you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all.
As much as we as parents and guardians want to tell them to just put down the phone and not check social media platforms, it’s like telling them to cut off their right arm. Most, if not all are heads down reading their Facebook status’, checking their Snaps, Twitter and Instagram account even before they “SSS”. They want to know what they missed while they slept if they slept at all!
As a parent of two sons, one who is away at college, I often wish that I could shelter them from all the evil hatred in the world but that’s not possible. However, what I can do is be there for them when they need to talk both on and off line.
Everyone needs to think before they tweet, pause before they post and stop before they snap that smartphone app.
If you are targeted by cyberbullies, it’s important not to respond to any messages or posts written about you, no matter how hurtful or untrue. Responding will only make the situation worse and provoking a reaction from you is exactly what the cyber bullies want, so don’t give them the satisfaction.
It’s also very important that you don’t seek revenge on a cyber bully by becoming a cyber bully yourself. Again, it will only make the problem worse and could result in serious legal consequences for you. If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online.
Instead, respond to cyberbullying by:
Saving the evidence of the cyberbullying, keep abusive text messages or a screenshot of a web page and then report them to a trusted adult, such as a family member, teacher, or school counselor. If you don’t report incidents, the cyber bully will often become more aggressive.
Reporting threats of harm and inappropriate sexual messages to the police. In many cases, the cyber bully’s actions can be prosecuted by law.
Being relentless. Cyberbullying is rarely limited to one or two incidents. It’s far more likely to be a sustained attack on you over a period of time. So, like the cyberbully, you may have to be relentless and keep reporting each and every bullying incident until it stops. There is no reason for you to ever put up with cyber bullying.
Preventing communication from the cyber bully, by blocking their email address, cell phone number, and deleting them from social media contacts. Report their activities to their internet service provider (ISP) or to any social media or other websites they use to target you. The cyberbully’s actions may constitute a violation of the website’s terms of an agreement and depending on the laws in your state it may even warrant criminal charges.
If you are being cyberbullied, remember:
Don’t blame yourself. It is not your fault. No matter what a cyberbully says or does, you should not be ashamed of who you are or what you feel. The cyberbully is the person with the problem, not you.
Try to view cyberbullying from a different perspective. The cyberbully is an unhappy, frustrated person who wants to have control over your feelings so that you feel as badly as they do. Don’t give them the satisfaction.
Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t make a cyberbullying incident worse by dwelling on it or reading the message over and over. Instead, delete any cyberbullying messages and focus on positive experiences. There are many wonderful things about you so be proud of who you are.
Get help. Talk to a parent, teacher, counselor, or other trusted adult. Seeing a counselor does not mean there is something wrong with you.
Learn to deal with stress. Finding ways to relieve stress can make you more resilient so you won’t feel overwhelmed by cyberbullying. Exercise, meditation, positive self-talk, muscle relaxation, and breathing exercises are all good ways to manage the stress from cyberbullying.
Spend time doing things you enjoy. The more time you spend with activities that bring you pleasure—sports, hobbies, hanging out with friends who don’t participate in cyberbullying, for example—the less significance cyberbullying will have on your life.
Social media is not all bad nor is it a fad or the future – it’s now and it’s a tool that we should use to connect…connect positively one word at a time…connect positively one word at a time to change the world for the better.
Talk to your students about cyberbullying before the school year begins.