Have you or a family member ever been a victim of cyberbullying?
Before presenting at our event, Sara Broers, owner of Social Connections took a quick poll of those from North Iowa (and beyond) and found that 66 percent replied, “Yes.”
Cyberbullying is a pervasive issue everywhere and North Iowa is no exception. As Bridges staff, we’ve heard parents and school staff describe their struggles dealing with cyberbullying and hoped Sara could provide some understanding and advice on the topic.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Foundation for the Enhancement of Mitchell County, we were able to host Broers and invite the community to attend free of charge. Here’s what we learned about cyberbullying:
Bridges Program Coordinator Lacey introduces Broers
What Exactly Is Cyberbullying? : According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, cyberbullying is defined as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones and other electronic devices. Examples include sending harassing text messages or posting a photo of someone without their permission and making fun of them online.
Which Apps Are Popular Cyberbullying Platforms? : Broers feels parents should be concerned if they find apps like Kik, Yik Yak, Ask.fm, Secret & Tinder & Snapchat on their children’s phone and iPads.
What Should A Child or Youth Do If They Are The Victim Of Cyberbullying? Tell an adult like a parent or teacher. Save the email or text message instead of deleting it! Don’t forward it on to others. If you are an adult and it’s serious, connect with law enforcement. If you are unsure, talk to someone.
How Can We Prevent Cyberbullying?
- Whether you are an adult or youth, Broers emphasized being nice online and offline.
- Broers advised students to notice what color their teacher’s eyes are on the first day of school. They will appear confident and sit taller.
- Know which apps your children are using and don’t be afraid to set limitations. For example, if your child has a Facebook account, make it mandatory for them to “friend” you.
- As a parent, YOU are ultimately responsible for the phones/iPads/computer accounts you pay for. You truly need to know how your children are interacting with others online, not only their their safety, but because you are liable for the activity on their account.
- Teach children empathy. How would they feel if they were in the other person’s place? Teach and practice kindness. Kindness matters.
- Stand up to bullies: We all need to peacefully stand up together against bullying behaviors instead of just being bystanders or ignoring these behaviors. For example, Broers described a situation that occurred in North Iowa where a youth was bullied and beat-up on a school bus while the other youth egged it on and took phone videos. What a difference we could make if we all said no to bullying.
Finally, Broers reminded us that online interactions can also lead to good things! If your child enjoys being online, help them connect with positive role models and those who are experts in their fields of interest. Help them find people who provide encouragement and wisdom.
If you would like to contact Sara for further information, visit her Social Connections website. She shared a lot of important information about preventing cyberbullying and empowering our children to know how to appropriately respond if they should encounter a cyberbully.
Cyberbullying Research Center
Dr. Michelle Borba
11 Possible Signs of Cyberbullying