It's hard to pinpoint exactly who your child may or may not be communicating with on the internet. Online harassment is becoming one of leading causes of self-harm and suicide in teens. Rhonda Winbush, community outreach specialist at United HealthCare, says parents need to monitor what their children are doing online.
On the most common misconceptions about cyber bullying
Most teens feel that cyber bullying only happens to a certain group, but the truth is that everyone who uses the internet is subject to cyber bullying. Secondly, they believe that no one else is ever being bullied and that’s not true. With cyber communication, its easier for someone to bully you because you don’t know who’s behind that computer. Third, the difference between cyber bullying and other types of bullying is exactly what we’re discussing. It can be anyone. It can be someone that you were just at school with or someone that you’ve never known.
On conversations parents should have with children on cyber bullying
Well, the major conversation that you want to have with your children is for them to not take the computer as their complete resource. The internet is an excellent resource, but they have to know how to use it. They have to know, as a parent, I have to monitor certain things that my children are seeing and doing on the computer. Also, when something is going on they need to report it. Tell a parent or tell a teacher so that it won’t affect them.
On what parents and educators can do stop cyber bullying
The first thing I would say is that we can no longer say that kids are being kids. It’s become a major problem. Kids are taking their own lives or someone else’s life because they don’t have any type of support to tell them it okay and they can get help. As a parent, I have to make sure that my child is safe on the internet as well as at school. Getting teachers involved, counselors, and mental health professionals, to work with us as a unit and not separately.