According to the StompOutBullying.org website, their parental resource page highlighted this horrific topic by calling out cyberbullying as “social terrorism by technology.” While our societies general rule of thumb states we don’t negotiate with terrorists, what are parents to do when it comes to this type of traumatic experience?
Back in our day, these types of playground antics were seen by a handful of our peers, in a group of young school children and may have been filed away as a normal part of childhood. But today, given our growing technology, sharing this experience has turned into a worldwide epidemic of internet shame that affects up to half (actually 43%) of kids today, depending on their age.
Recognizing The Signs
Many times children who are victims of online abuse feel that they have no avenues available to them in order to ease their pain, suffering and embarrassment plastered all over the internet. But parents and other adults need to look for signs of this overwhelming abuse so they can step in and offer assistance that can include:
- Withdrawal from family, people and social situations in general … but you may see them turning to a pet for comfort, a stuffed toy or other type of inanimate object for support.
- Unexplained symptoms and situations that can include abrupt examples of anger, depression, weight loss (or gain), headaches, stomach issues, insomnia (or oversleeping) and other unusual behavioral or health problems.
- Weird reactions and behaviors after being online, surfing the internet or abrupt changes in attitude after receiving text messages or interacting with other handheld devices, even gaming systems have online chat capabilities that can be dangerous.
- A loss of participation with normal, day-to-day activities that once held their full interest, whether it’s involvement in sports or inclusion in a club or other type of extra curricular or other kinds of after school activities.
Although any of these examples may seem “ordinary” for a teen or another type of a “phase” that a younger child could be experiencing as a natural part of growing up, parents need to be extra vigilant when it comes to these important red flags. Sometimes it isn’t an obvious appearance of something like black eye that could alert parents to a bullying problem, especially given today’s advanced technology.
Stopping The Process
Again, back in the day, when our parents recognized signs of bullying and they “went to the principal’s office,” as kids we often found this type of exposure even more embarrassing or damaging than the event itself. But given the reach of the internet, the damage it causes to our children who are now caught in the crossfire, this brought bullying to a whole new level.
Before it escalates into a place where our kids become suicidal or even homicidal, we can nip this into the bud if we can recognize the signs and symptoms before it’s too late. Talking with teens or connecting with kids is difficult at best, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. We can offer them a way out through counseling, get authorities involved if we can get them to see these faceless bullies are harming other children too.