Bullying Suicide Depression Students Children

 Last month, Americans learned the tragic consequences of online bullying.  Four high school students took their own lives after enduring long stretches of bullying and harassment.  They suffered ridicule from slanderous remarks on social networking sites, such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.  They read vulgar messages, some that included death threats, directly to their cellphones, or they were filmed in comprising positions by unsuspecting voyeurs. 

“Techno-bullying” has become the weapon of choice of the unseen tormentor.  It used to be that bullies had to intimidate their victims by sight.  They had to be physically imposing. They had to be accompanied by a group of supporters.  They needed the edge in size or numbers in order for their tactics to be effective. 

However, those bullies created a new form on cyber terror.  The “nerds” and the “geeks” learned that insults spoken from anonymity had similar devastating effects as when done in person.  The anonymity offered the cyber-bully protection from retribution or reprisal.  Also, their hateful messages reached a whole a lot more people.  A mass text sent on Facebook (for example) meant that potentially thousands could read that text.  Victims suffered irreparable damage from insults by complete strangers, which only intensified the torture. 

The in-your-face bully stood the chance of being physically dealt with.  Anonymous bullies didn’t have the fear of being discovered.  They hid behind screen names which were often changed as frequently as changing one’s clothes.

In October, Dr. Phil discussed the dangers of techno-bullying.  He even spoke during a Senate Hearing on the horrible matter.  Last year, a social study revealed one in four teens endured being bullied or harassed online or through texts.  Many of them feared going to school.  Some even refused to go, changed schools or dropped out altogether. 

The reasons for someone being cyber or techno-bullied varied.  Some students were victimized for their sexual orientation.  Those gay or homosexual or were suspected of being gay or homesexual suffered severe bullying.  With girls, some were attacked for allegedly being “too promiscuous” or for stealing one’s boyfriend.  Others were ostracized for just being different.  With cyber bullies, girls were often more aggressive than boys in tormenting victims.

Even though cyber-bullying offers problem, it can be countered with constructive measures.

Know your child’s friends and alleged enemies 

A parent’s best defense is knowing who their children associate with.  Keep an open line of communication.  Make sure you child is comfortable to share their day with you.  Take in an interest in their friends.  Become familiar with those friends and their parents.  It might be that one of your child’s friends may be bullying them in secret.  As a G.I. Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle.”

Ask

Ask your child if everything is going well at school.  Have that conversation.  Bullying is everywhere.  Be proactive to seeing your child’s change of behavior, eating habits or whatever.  If you come at them concerned and understanding, they may open up on what’s going on.

Be aware of a “lie” 

Children don’t want to ask their parents for help ON ANYTHING.  They feel ashamed to reveal their problems.  They might minimize their suffering to put you at ease or to block it out themselves.  A “lie” is a cry for help.  Come to them as a parent and as their friend.  Tell them that they can trust you. 

Change your cell phone number 

It’s a quick fix because the slander is already out there.  But, at least the abusers will be stopped temporarily from direct messaging your child.

Let your child know that “telling” isn’t snitching

The most dangerous enabler to a bully victim is silence.  They can’t hold their suffering inside for long.  It will come out and usually in self-destructive ways.  Alcohol and drug abuse, depression or violent rage are the most telling denominators.  A victim without a voice to be heard is a victim in grave danger to themselves and others.

Go to the bully’s parent(s) or bullies’ parents directly

Sometimes, a parent has to walk or drive to their child’s tormentor residence.  They have parents of their own.  Talk to those parents and tell them what’s going on.  More times or not. a bully’s parent (s) has no idea that their child is a bully.  If they do and do nothing, go to your school’s counselor for mediation.  If that doesn’t work, take legal action in civil court.

Above all, don’t be a bully or a bully’s victim.  Take the Dr. Phil Anti-bullying Pledge today.