As a parent of Millennials it is important to me that I know that cyber bullying is a real issue for our children today. With the many platforms of social media, it’s become easy for our kids to be victims of online bullies. My children are still very young and no way am I going to let them have a social media account at this young age but before you know it, they may very well start asking. I will put my foot down and try to protect them from these things but you must know the difference between protecting and completely sheltering perhaps keeping them from something they need to know how to use. Always keep an open door for your children, let them know that nothing is off limits when it comes to having a discussion. Whatever they are going through, let them know you are there for them. Even though we think they should know this, it is important for you to verbalize it to them. Alexandra, mother of four, recently had an experience with cyber bullies attacking her oldest daughter. I asked her to share with us what happened and what advice she could give us from a parent’s point of view. Below is an interview I had with her.
Q. How old is your daughter and what grade is she in?
A. My daughter is a sophomore (in High School) and 15 years old .
Q. How did you find out about this issue?
A. I found out about this issue from my own daughter. Luckily, she felt she could share this with us.
Q. Does she know the bullier?
Yes. The bullies were friends with her in the past and have even slept over our house.
Q. What kinds of things were they saying or doing?
A. It started with them making fun of her looks. What she wore, her teeth, her hair, her weight and then it escalated to hear say accusing her of talking about them, instigating arguments, bringing other people in by telling others that she was talking about others, then laughing at her each day with groups of people as she walked by talking about her loud enough that others can hear . They wrote stuff about her on Twitter and instagram and made sure she saw what they were writing about. They threatened to pull her hair and wrote that she was scared of them and that they were going to fight her after-school, challenging her.
Q. How did this make your child and your family feel?
A. Our daughter was upset and couldn’t believe that it escalated to this point. She was angry, stressed; especially since it was during testing period at school. We were angry as well and wanted to go to those girls ourselves and talk some sense into them.
Q. What advice did you give your child?
It was happening for a couple of months and at first I told her to ignore their comments hoping it would stop. It didn’t. When our daughter called us from school & told us they were going to jump her after-school, we said enough is enough. Something needed to be done so we told her to approach the main girl by herself and ask what was the problem, on school grounds, and if she was going to fight her to do it now. (At least on school grounds, there are people that can step in and protect her. We didn’t want our daughter to be bullied and wanted her to stick up for herself. When my daughter approached the girl, both my daughter and the main bully were taken to the principals office. They were both spoken to and parents were called. I still feel that this wasn’t enough because the worry is still there for my daughter’s safety . She’s been working out learning how to defend herself ever since this started & will continue learning to defend herself
Q. What kind of advice would you offer parents who experience this?
My advice to parents & kids is to be as open as you can with each other. Confide in your parents, trust them enough to tell them what’s going on, for they will not judge you. They love you.
Q.What advice would you give to parents of kids who are the bully?
To the parents of the bullier I say take this very serious because I feel this is a cry for help. You should recognize that your teen needs to be punished & needs to see the severity of their actions. Set limits on them . Get them help and make sure they apologize to the victims and understand what they did wrong and what could have happened as a result of their bullying such as physical, mental & suicidal results.
Q. I understand you talked to school officials, and did you feel this resolved the issue?
I felt that this issue was taken with concern by the school but I feel them talking to them is not enough. I still worry for my daughter’s safety. I feel all parents should get together and with the teens and that follow ups should be made not only by counselors with the kids but with parents .
Q. What advice do you give kids who may go through this and not know what to do?
I would tell kids that never keep this to themselves they are supported always . I would tell parents to always communicate with kids question your kids especially if you see there moods changing or if they are acting different or not talking at all & stay isolated
Q. What else would you tell parents or kids that may have a similar issue?
I say to all parents and teens you are not alone others are going through this if you open up & tell others you would be surprised how many have gone through this also and are stronger from this experience because they bonded and believed in there teens, listened to them and stood by them