Cyber Bullying Can we Protect Our Kids?

Cyber bullying is a huge issue in our schools and the problem starts at home.  It's what we teach our kids, tell our kids, and how we hold them accountable for their actions.  As my children grow I realize that their lives and thoughts are separate from mine.  They continue to put up walls and boundaries that are harder to break through.  Their friends are influencing them more than ever before. 

So how do we keep our kids from being bullied or becoming bullies? 

Do we need to look at the causes or the effect?  I don't think we can do anything about the TV shows, movies, Internet, video games, or societal attitudes.  Trying to stop the cause is not a realistic goal, so we are left with finding solutions to the effects.  If our children are going to participate in the world so must we.  We need to be aware of the media that effect them and understand how their values are formed by them. 

Communication is always the solution to forming strong bond between parents and children.  Whether or not communications are effective depends on how parents communicate with their children.  To instill values in our children do we give orders, "We don't believe in abortion!"  Do we give ultimatums, "Don't show up on my doorstep pregnant!"  Do we judge others,"Girls that sleep around are worthless."  I don't believe talking at children or teens helps them develop values, you have to talk with them. 

Keep communications open, plan one on one time with your teen with no electronic distractions.  Initiate communication with "safe" non confrontational questions.  Your current relationship will determine how long before you can start hitting the harder questions.  When you feel the conversation is flowing freely and the barriers are down start asking them what they think about things going on in the news.  What they thought about a movie.  Then you can start asking them what their opinion is on the "big" values, abortion, drugs, bullying, etc.  Don't judge the answers, don't react if you don't agree.  Just listen and ask why.  What are their reasons behind their beliefs or opinions.  By understanding them you can then work towards helping them choose good values. 

Stories help them to determine values.  Pre schoolers watch shows and listen to stories filled with pure values that teach them to be helpful, selfless, and kind.  Tweens watch shows and read books with more complex values and not all are pure and sweet.  Then there are the stories that Teens watch and read.  So how do parents mold their teen's values?  Parent's need to watch the movies, read the books, and figure out their Internet lives to find red flags. 

Parents do need to be sneaky, and its OK, these are your kids and its your responsibility to keep them safe.  Just don't let them know how you have busted them on something, you don't want them hiding your evidence in the future.  One of my facebook connections busted his daughter for sneaking out because she posted it, problem was he posted that she was busted.  Next time she'll be more careful and he won't know what's happening.  Pick the issues you want to address and then talk to them about it in general.  Talk to teachers, read emails, friend on facebook, and check their rooms.  Some things will freak you out, some things you will want to fix but with some things we have to trust that our children will fix them and we need to be there for them. 

I am scared that my children won't always make the best decisions and that they may have to live through consequences I never would dream for them.  I want to fix everything, be part of everything, know everything, and keep them from harm.  Realistically though I can't, I can only be there if they do to help them get through it.  I wish life wasn't so difficult but it is and its getting more dangerous.  We didn't have to deal with Internet as kids but we did have mean girls, we had bullies, we had sex, drugs and crime.  Those things are no different, the only part that has changed is the scope, its more public with easier access.  The values are the same and the solution is the same, communicate.  Don't wait for them to come to you, you have to create opportunities to come together.

Cyber bulling is a criminal action - make sure your child isn't on either side of the court room.
Cyber bulling causes depression
Educational systems are taking a role in Cyber Bullying Prevention
Facebook Cyber Bullying and the Arrests

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