When Bullying hits our Kids in Cyberspace
June 29th, 2007Posted by: Theo Nicolakis
We have all experienced bullying. It is never pleasant and for some victims, it can become a very serious problem. Unfortunately, the advent of the Internet has provided a venue for a new form of bullying, called “cyber bullying” where web sites, email, online video, chat rooms, etc. are all used as forms of intimidation.
The Pew Internet and American Life project just published a study on cyberbullying. The study showed that approximately a third of online teens reported that they have been the target of online bullying. Manifestations of cyberbullying have included: threatening messages; having private emails or text messages forwarded without consent; having embarrasing photos posted and disseminated without permission; and having rumors spread online.
Fortunately, our Church has taken active steps in responding to cyberbullying. Through the Archdiocese parents have access to resources that can help them in the event that any of their children become victims of cyberbullying. The Archdiocese’s Youth and Young Adult Ministries Department has published an excellent article on the topic, which I have copied below. For more great resources like this, parents can subscribe to one of the many email listservers that the Youth Ministries Department offers by clicking here.
June 28, 2007
Dear youth workers, clergy, religious educators, and parents,
Greetings in Christ!
This week we share with you an article from the Center for Family Care about bullying, which can be a serious problem at school and sometimes even at church.
With love in Christ,
The Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries
The Archdiocese Center for Family Care
When You Suspect Your Teenager is Being Bullied
By Angelike Giallaourakis, PhD
Something isn’t right. You sense that your teenager is distressed and that someone in your teen’s youth group is the cause of that distress. You are pretty sure that your teenager is a victim of bullying.
What takes place when a teenager is being bullied?
* Physical intimidation
* Excessive verbal harassment
* Excessive teasing
* Repeated exclusion from the rest of the group
* Repeated use of the internet to harass the teenager (also referred to as cyberbullying)
Bullying is not a conflict between two individuals but a power imbalance!
What is a power imbalance?
* A power imbalance occurs when one person (the bully) seeks to dominate or control another individual (the victim).
* You cannot resolve bullying by expecting the teenagers to talk things out. Research has shown that conflict resolution is not the appropriate method to address bullying.
* Bullying must be resolved through:
-support and education for the victim
-informing the bully that their behavior will not be tolerated
-educating everyone (victim, bully, friends and adults) on how to respect each other
-Young people need to be taught to love and respect each other “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39
When a parent becomes aware that their teenager is not behaving like their typical self, parents will often question what is going on. Here are some suggestions on how to best communicate with your teenager, especially when you are having difficulty getting your teenager to talk with you.
* Create a special time when you and your teenager can discuss your concerns.
* Let your teenager know that you will LISTEN to him.
* Listen to what your teenager is saying.
* Make eye contact. Watch your body language.
* Don’t allow anger to interfere or end a conversation.
* Make sure your teenager knows that you will not judge what they are saying; you want to hear what is happening to them!
* Take note of what your teenager is not saying to you! (Do they look sad, embarrassed, and/or angry?)
* Your teenager needs to know that they can approach you with the subject of bullying. (Remember they may be too embarrassed to bring up this subject.)
* Praise your teenager when appropriate. Build their self-confidence.
* Give clear messages to your teenager.
* Make sure your rules are consistent.
* Model good behavior. Your actions should reflect the standards you want your teenager to follow: honesty, fair play, and integrity.
Once you learn that your teenager is being bullied…what to do? Here are some important pointers you can give to your teenager on how to deal with bullies.
*Ignore the bully! Don’t give the bully the satisfaction.
* Project positive body language – Hide physical signs of fear. Act like you are bored (it can neutralize the situation).
* Hang out with friends – bullies don’t want to get caught in the act!
* Avoid bullies (especially if they are with their friends) – Bullies like an audience.
* Save evidence that might help identify the bully, especially when cyberbullying has taken place.
Bullying is about power imbalance! Don’t expect the individuals involved to work it out. This can traumatize the victim. The bully should be expected to make amends, with the support and direction of the youth advisor and/or parish priest in a manner that is meaningful to the victim.
All young people are entitled to a safe environment and to be treated with respect. We need to communicate our concerns and seek assistance. The parish priest should provide support and guidance. The youth worker should be brought in to assist in the intervention of the bully and the victim. Talk to your priest and suggest that a special program on bullying prevention be conducted at your parish. Revenge is not the answer! “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew: 5:44)
Angelike Giallaourakis is a member of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Rocky River, Ohio where she is active as a GOYA Advisor. She and her husband have three wonderful sons ages 23, 21, and 16 years old. She has doctorate is from Kent State University in Special Education.
* www.StopBullyingNow.hrsa.gov – A wealth of information on how to address bullying is available to download or order on-line for free.
* www.aacap.org< /a> – American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Fact sheets available about bullying.
* www.safeyouth.org< /a> – National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center
* www.apa.org< /a> – American Psychological Association
* www.weprevent.org – National Crime Prevention Council
* www.ycwa.org – Youth Crime Watch of America
* www.surgeongen eral.gov/library/youthviolence – Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General
* Bullies & Victims: Helping your child through the schoolyard battlefield By Suellen Fried and Paula Fried
* Bullying is Not a Fact of Life by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration Center for Mental Health Services (www.samhsa.gov)
* Help! My Child is Being Bullied, Focus on the Family By Bill Maier
* The Bully, the Bullied, and Bystander: From Preschool to High School – How Parents and Teachers Can Help the Cycle of Violence by Barbara Coloroso