How to prevent cyber-bullying:

As adults the best ways to prevent cyber-bullying are to make ourselves aware of the problems, and spread our knowledge to children who come into contact with us. Like most pre-teens and teenagers, they'll probably roll their eyes and pretend that they're aren't listening, but most likely they are.

I interviewed my boyfriends cousins (ages 12 and 13, grades 7th and 8th) and some of their friends about cyber-bullying. I spoke with 7 girls individually and each of them told me that they had experienced some type of cyber-bullying at some point or another. A few of the girls took what was said to them to heart and were very hurt by it. A few of the girls also told me that they had done some cyber-bullying of their own that they were not so proud of. None of them had a legitimate reason to cyber-bully other than something catty that someone had said to them earlier that day. The girls told me that a few times they had been cyber-bullied they were able to brush it off without getting too worked up over it because they knew the "bully" was really their friend and they didn't mean it. "It is just typical teenagers trying to get at each others feelings" they told me. I asked the girls if they knew how dangerous cyber-bullying can be, they all seemed to agree that it was, but you know teenagers can be just yes-ing you to death until you shut up and leave them alone. All of the girls attend school in Brick Township, their school has taken time to provide assemblies for their students to make them aware of the dangers of cyber-bullying. The school had informed them for the 2006 Megan Meiers incident as well as other cases of cyber-bullying in our areas. The girls were aware of the website I-safe.org as well, because the school had provided them with the website name so they would be able to find more information on cyber-bullying in their spare time.

The state of New Jersey provides a website on cyber-bullying as well. www.njbullying.org/cyberbullying.htm Though the website provides lots information on cyber-bullying and how to prevent it, they provide I-Safe.org as the most credible cyber-bulling website. The website also says that I-safe.org has been used a number of times in New Jersey schools to make students more aware of cyber-bullying issues.

CyberBullying.Org offers these helpful tips to parents:

  • Sit down with your child when they are signing up for an IM account. If you are not careful, you can give others a great deal of access to your personal information. Users of IM should create a buddy list of only people you know and trust well. Most IM programs allow users to create a list of others that users may wish to "block" from sending them messages or contacting them for purposes of chatting in real time (while the users are both online together at the same time.)
  • Young kids shouldn't be in a chat room unless a trusted and responsible parent or guardian is sitting with them at the computer. Older kids should be only in moderated char rooms and even moderated chat rooms can lead to compromising, embarrassing and harassing situations. Kids shouldn't exchange e-mail with someone from a chat room or arrange to meet someone from a chat room without a parent or guardian present.



How to stop cyber-bullying once it starts:


Because the motives of each child is different, the solutions and responses to each cyber-bullying situation will differ as well. Unfortunately, there isn't a "one size fits all" solution when it comes to cyber-bullying. Only two types of cyber-bullies have something in common with traditional schoolyard bully. Experts who understand schoolyard bullying often misunderstand cyber-bullying because they think it is just another method of bullying. But the motives and nature of the cyber-communications, as well as the demographic and profile of a cyber-bully differs from their offline counterpart.

How to get involved:

The best ways to get involved are to brush up on your cyber-bullying knowledge and spread it around like a bad virus. The more people that know about it, the easier it may be to prevent it. If you have children in school or siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews too, talk to them. Talk to their teachers. Even local police departments can get involved. If you feel like these young ones that you know aren't properly educated about cyber-bullying, you can ask the township or the police department to put on an assembly on cyber-bullying. All you have to do is ask. Believe it or not, you could be saving a child's life by doing so.