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Allyn Evans

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The Newest Breed of Bully--The Cyberbully
by Allyn Evans   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, February 15, 2007
Posted: Thursday, February 15, 2007

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Information to keep your children safe online.

THE NEWEST BREED OF BULLY—THE CYBERBULLY

 

January 22, 2007—In 2007, the playground is bigger.  Now children can be bullied 24/7 while locked securely in the comfort of their own room.  The new game is cyberbullying.  The new bully is not who you think. 

 

Using any and all interactive technologies such as emails, instant messages, cell phones, text messaging devices, and electronic games, tweens and teens have a new and improved way to be torturer or victim.  In many cases, they end up as both.  In addition to interactive technologies, sometimes children use websites—referred to as hate sites—to vote for a school’s ugliest student or biggest loser. 

 

Cyberbullying is becoming a common occurrence.  According to Susan Morris Shafer coauther of Why Girls Talk and What They’re Really Saying, “Cyberbullies can post derogatory remarks and pictures, organize online smear campaigns, or break into email accounts and send out mean messages under another’s name.”  Another form of bullying comes from forwarded messages when children are caught in hurtful or embarrassing situations when an email or IM is forwarded to a classmate or broadcast to many.  Shafer says, “We always ask our students to ask themselves:  Is what you’re writing something you’d want everyone in the school cafeteria to know tomorrow?”

 

Girls, more so than their male peers, seem to be both target and abuser.  Cyberbullying can start in elementary school, but is more likely to occur about the time a child gets his or her first Instant Messaging account. In many cases the bullying starts innocently and stops once a child understands the consequences, such as loss of accounts or devices. 

 

Cyberbullying involves minors only.  If adults are involved, the offense is much more serious.  But minors need to be careful too.  Once a child reaches the age of 14, the fallout can be more serious and classified as sexual harassment or stalking.  i-Safe.org, an Internet safety organization, recently reported “nearly half of fourth-through eighth-graders have been cyberbullied during the last school year.” 

 

What Can Parents Do?

 

Experts tell us our children’s new playground is primarily unsupervised by adults and that most children know more about electronic devices than their parents.  In an ABC News report:  How Mean Can Teens Be by Keturah Gray, Elizabeth Englander of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center said, “Adults, being so far behind the eight ball, means we won't be able to educate kids on cyberbullying."  She also said, “It creates a ‘perfect storm’ in which kids have a separate, unmonitored universe where they can be naive enough to think there are no consequences.” 

 

Allyn Evans, Stillwater author and speaker cautions, “It’s important for parents to educate themselves.  For example, the Internet can be a wonderful resource and tool for students.  Forbidding its use isn’t the answer.”  Parry Aftab of Wired Safety concurs, “Parents need to understand that the greatest risk our children face online is being denied access.  The Internet is essential to our children's education, future careers and lives.”  Evans reminds us, “Denying children cell phones can also be problematic.  Cell phones are a way for parents and child to communicate and are also used for safety reasons.”

 

There are ways for parents to get up to speed.  Websites like:  www.isafe.org, www.wiredsafety.org, www.stopcyberbullying.com all provide tips for parents, educators and children.  Serious cases of abuse need to be handled by the police who many times will work in concert with an Internet safety group. 

 

Evans, who spoke to Yale High School educators in Yale, Oklahoma on Wednesday, January 24th, has suggestions for parents: 

“1.        When you give your child the responsibility to use or possess interactive technologies, establish some ground rules.  Explain and enforce what is not allowed.  Establish consequences for doing something banned by you. 

2.         Find out how to use parental controls offered by your Internet Service Provider.  Or, purchase third-party software to help you monitor your child’s online activities, but don't rely only on these methods.

3.         Buy cell phones made specifically for children that only allow calls to and from approved numbers.  Some of the latest offerings are:  Verizon Migo, Disney Mobile, TicTalk by Enforma and Cingular Firefly.”

 

For information about Evans’ Internet safety programs for educators, parents, children and teens, call 405-377-2541.

 

About Allyn Evans:

Speaker and author, Allyn Evans, recently finished her second book for parents of adolescent girls.  Filled with advice and information on a wide-range of topics, Evans regularly speaks to groups about Internet safety issues.  Her first book, Grab the Queen Power:  Live Your Best Life!  (ISBN: 1-932993-20-7)  is available at Hastings and Amazon.com.  For more information, please visit www.allynevans.com  or, contact Allyn Evans at allynevans.suddenlink.net or 405.612.7782.

 

 

Web Site: Allyn Evans


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Reviewed by Jean Pike
A lot of good information. As the mother of a fourteen-year-old, I found this article to be most eye opening. Thanks!
Reviewed by Elizabeth Taylor (Reader)
Good article. Timely too.

Elizabeth
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