School is about to start. As I mentioned in my last post, LGBT kids often dread the school year because compared to heterosexuals, they are bullied two to three times more. Perhaps, even more insidious and pervasive than bullying is cyberbullying. As Ellen Friedrichs, editor of About.com GLBT Teens, writes: “the barrier provided by the Internet allows some people to be incredibly cruel in ways they probably wouldn’t be if they were standing right in front of the person they were bashing.”
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is on-line practice of harassment. on-line and over-cell phones, with intention to harm. A cyberbully could be a classmate, neighbor or anonymous user. He can text, use social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and You Tube as well as Instagram, Tumblr and other photo and blog sites. With the proliferation of these sites, their speed, and anonymity, the door has been opened for criminals. And it’s easy for your child to be a target!
Effects of Bullying
We’ve all read about the tragic ongoing suicides of LGBT kids that are harassed. They have such low self-esteem. According to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, 6/12/13, teenage victims of cyberbullying are most likely to develop symptoms of depression, substance abuse and internet addiction.
As cyberbullying is a growing problem that doesn’t seem to dissipate, parents need to know how it operates.
· Someone can get your child’s password and use it to send fake messages or post fake comments.
· A perpetrator can create a fake profile of another person.
· Groups can gang up on your child online.
· A cyberbully can post unattractive or unflattering pictures or videos of your child.
· Non-respectful people can post nasty things to your child online privately or in a public space.
What Parents Can Do To Thwart Bullies
· Report cyberbullying.
· Don’t respond and don’t forward messages.
· Cancel social networking, e-mail and cell phone accounts and open new accounts.
· Block the bullies and unfriend them.
· Keep evidence of cyberbullying. Save emails and bullying messages.
· If being bullied on Facebook, report the “perp” to the site’s administrator and block the bully.
For Serious Bullying, Involve the Police
Criminal Acts are classified as:
· Threats of violence.
· Child pornography or sending sexually explicit messages or photos.
· Taking a photo/video of someone in place where he/she would expect privacy.
· Stalking and hate crimes
Report Cyberbullying to School Administration when
· Schools can use the information to help inform.
· In some states, prevention and response strategies in schools are required to address cyberbullying in their anti-bullying policy.
· Some state laws also cover off-campus behavior that’s reflected in a hostile school environment.
For more tips, see the U.S. Government’s anti-bullying initiative and resource website:.http://stopbullyinggov./cyberbullying-
Practice The Golden Rule
Finally, ask your kid if he/she has been bullied and if he/she has bullied others. Remind your child that there are two basic rules about bullying: treat everyone with respect and always tell an adult whenever he experiences or witnesses bullying.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.
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