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Bullies Go High-Tech
You can now add bullying to the list of things made easier by technology. Teens today live much of their lives on the Internet. Online bullying, also called cyberbullying, can involve using the Internet, cell phones, or other devices to send text or images that are intended to embarrass or hurt the other person.
Cyberbullying affects many
teenagers and children, according to the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ). Online bullying has been used for the following purposes:
Pretending to be someone else in order to trick someone
Telling untrue stories or rumors about another person
Sending mean, vulgar, or threatening messages or images
Posting someone's picture without his or her consent
Sharing private or sensitive information about a person
So the bullies bent on malice have new weapons. Their nameless nature can make the bullies bolder. The victim can be reached anytime, anywhere. A child can flee a school-yard bully just by leaving, but that won't work in cyberspace.
Parents often don't know of the problem because children hesitate to report it. Awareness is the first step, and education about preventing and managing cyberbullying is key.
What's a parent to do? It may not be possible to make a child bully-proof, but here are some ideas:
Remind your child: Don't open e-mail or accept instant messages from unknown senders.
Encourage the child to block communication with the cyberbully. Delete email messages without reading them. Share your concerns about the bullying with a trusted friend, or better, a parent.
Make sure you child knows not to share phone numbers, passwords or e-mail addresses with individuals he or she does not know well.
Encourage your child not to reply to any bullying or disturbing message.
Enforce the fact that your child should
never meet anyone in person that you have only known online.
Remind your child: tell an authority figure at once if a threatening message shows up.
Report threatening contact right away to the service provider.
A good rule of thumb to remember is that if you wouldn't say simething in person, you probably shouldn't say it online. Parents need to watch for changes in a child's behavior that can signal problems like bullying and talk with their kids about their online activities.
For more information on bullying and cyberbullying, watch our video with child psychiatrist, Dr. Lila Amirali
Network of Victim Assistance
Children's Hospital - SW
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