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  • Cyber-Bullying extends far beyond teenagers.  Victims can also be siblings, co-workers, teachers, parents, the elderly, and others. 

  • Bullying is a reality for younger teens today.  Adolescents and teenagers take bullying words very, very personally.   It is a favored tool of adolescents and teens looking to dictate a social pecking order, according to experts.  

    There are 3 main kinds of bullying, according to the government-run Stop Bullying website:

        1.    Verbal (teasing and taunting)
        2.    Social (spreading false and harmful rumors about another person)
        3.    Physical (hitting, kicking, biting, pinching...)  
  • Know signs of cyber-bullying.  If your child is cyber-bullied, he may not tell you due to shame or embarrassment.  So know what behaviors to watch for that could indicate online safety issues

  • The main trouble spots for cyber bullying are between people who are current or former friends and dating partners.

  • What the research says:  49% of kids say they’ve been bullied at least once or twice during the school term, but only 32% of their parents believed them.

What You Can Do
  • If you are being bullied or harassed, tell someone.   Report bullying to a teacher or school counselor, as well as your parents.  Bystander intervention can also make bystanders the next victims. 

  • What parents can do: 

    • Monitor your children's social media accounts, across all platforms.  See who is posting what.

    • Pay attention to changes in behavior - are your children more sad or despondent?  Are their eating habits changing?

    • Pay attention as to whether or not they are still hanging out with their friends, or avoiding activities where their friends would normally be at.

    • Apps to be on-guard for are the anonymous messaging apps, like YikYak or After School, or Whisper, that allow people to post without revealing their identity.  That can be a breeding ground for bullying. 

    • There are many apps available for parents, such as My Local Watchdog, Due Diligence, and Social Shield.  Programs and apps like that allow parents to monitor their children's social media activity.  You can also have these apps flag certain words that indicate bullying, violence or words of a sexual nature.  ("Taking Aim at Cyberbullying," Prevention advice in school and online, Ericka Souter, parenting expert and editor of Mom.me, GMA, October 1, 2016, http://erickasouter.com/tv-appearances/)

    • Ask to see evidence of cyber bullying.  If the hurtful interactions are taking place over the Internet, or through cell phone text messages, e-mail, or Instant Messages (IM), ask to see it and then make copies of the evidence.

    • Use the same Internet tools that your child uses.  There are a lot of great web resources for parents to learn how to use and navigate through various social media sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.

      Give your kid a chance for amnesty.  If your child is having problems give him/her a chance to talk about it without fear of any kind of punishment or consequence. When you establish a relationship with your child—one that assures them that you are their ally and advocate and, within a certain range of boundaries, you’re not going to punish them—they will come and admit to you that they’ve made some bad choices that may have produced some egregiously bad behaviors from other kids. Communication with your child is key!

      Go to the school if your child is not safe or is afraid to attend to school.  (Katy Allen, University of Rochester bullying-expert.)   http://www.warner.rochester.edu/newsevents/story/926/

    • Watch for signs that your child may not feel safe online or is possibly engaging in inappropriate online behavior. 

      Red flags include: child spends longer hours online and seems tense about it; suspicious phone calls, e-mails, and plain wrapped packages arrive at your home; your credit card statement lists suspicious purchases; child stops typing, covers the screen, hits delete, shuts down the computer when he knows you’re close; child suddenly stops using cell phone or email, web, social networking devices; child withdraws from friends or wants to avoid school; child is suddenly sullen or shows a marked change in personality or behavior.   (Dr. Michele Borba is a TODAY contributor and author of "The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries." Follow her on twitter @micheleborba. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/)
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