It was ignored by me when it first appeared in my feed. A young girl from New Jersey (a mere 40 miles apart) killed herself at the end of the college year following endless misery by her classmates. Her narrative appeared in my FB feed after her mom sent an appeal to parents to be more cautious about their kids’ actions. The post struck my feed as her post began going viral. This time it was a girl from Long Island, NY, (a mere 40 miles away in the opposite direction) who shot herself and lost her own life after being bullied by a lot of women who refused to allow her “in their team.” The same day, the local news covered the story of a Long Island boy that had been so bullied by the boys in his middle school football team — in spite of the fact that his parents had spoken to school officials, later he arrived home with bruises on his head — that he stopped eating and was presently being treated in a local hospital.
One could state that a single time could possibly be a fluke, however, if stories of middle school bullying take within my Facebook feed all in the same week, I’d go so far as to say it’s an outbreak.
Obviously there’s nothing new about bullying. In my eight years of writing, I have written how we talk about it to our kids and numerous tales about it. But the bullying of today differs. It’s much more subtle, and it is getting more deadly.
Social media has been blamed for a lot of the issues, but in regards to adolescent bullying, the correlation is too powerful to ignore. With programs like Snapchat and Instagram, kids can see when groups of children are getting together and when they’re left out. The programs are utilised to make messages that were nasty about the way someone looks, the way they dress, and also exactly what they did in school that same day. Boiled down, teenagers are currently hiding behind the anonymity of the apps to speak to who ever how ever they please.
“If kids, and several adults for that matter, aren’t speaking to someone face-to-face, they are not as likely to feel that the consequences of what they are really saying. It is too simple to say something you wouldn’t say to someone if they were standing right in front of you,” according to NoBullying.com.
Yes, cyberbullying is real, and it can not be brushed off any longer.
In the Event of both Mallory Grossman, the NJ adolescent, the Treaty began with “mean texts” and articles into Instagram along with Snapchat. Based on her family’s lawyer, the messages “were vile” and suggestive, saying things like, “Why don’t you kill yourself.” For the Long Island woman, it was Instagram posts that left out her, as shown by a Facebook article about her passing written by a mom that is neighborhood. It reads, “I watch the disgust, along with the damage when a child doesn’t get invited out, and yet, their entire ‘squad’ of 25 are posing on Instagram.”
Over and over it boils to social media posts and exclusion. We use shirts and can hold assemblies. However, the onus is not on our students here. The onus is on us parents.
Where do kids learn these actions? Who teaches them that grief is OK (even if it’s just this one time)? Who’s tracking their actions? A line from the post about the Long Island teen has stuck with me for the last few times: “As a parent, you might all think it is innocent, and oh so happy that your child has their ‘crew’, recognize that there are lots of others that are being left out!”
Yes, the onus is really on us to instruct our children to be inclusive. To instruct them to look out. To teach them to stand up for the kid who is being bullied. To teach them not to stand idly by. To instruct them to be leaders. We’re responsible for tracking our children’s social networking habits. Networking taxpayers, for teaching them how to be great.
A while ago, I talked with Janell Burley Hofmann, writer of iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Must Know About Selfies, Sexting, Gambling and Growing Up, about the constraints we should put on our children once we hand them a smartphone, and she said, “While we may not sit down with our teens in the living area and listen to every conversation they have in person, we still have an concept about what their interests are, where they hang outside. We wish to get that identical sense of being in song online — what programs do they like, what social networks do they like, who are they interacting with.”
The moment we hand that phone over to our kids, it is our responsibility to monitor what they do with it. And if they aren’t familiar with Dad seeing what they are posting and Mother, they should not be publishing it. As we wouldn’t deliver the keys to our own cars without educating our teenagers to push, we shouldn’t be handing over mobiles without instructing them how to utilize them in a way that is trustworthy.
But the burden doesn’t lie on parents alone. Faculties will need to grapple with over school-wide assemblies. Whenever someone goes ahead to talk about an episode (or a collection of events), the kids’ parents should not be made to feel as though they are on trial. Schools will need to begin holding students accountable for injury — intended or not — caused by media articles. If it impacts a pupil in your college, the parties that were perpetrating must be held liable.
The easy reply to this is to remove cellphones from our kids’ hands. However, in this era, that’s virtually impossible. As the mother of an NYC middle school student, I rely on that phone for my kid to text me if he comes and departs from school through public transportation and to monitor where he is if he goes outside for lunch (the town is safer than ever before, but it’s still NYC!) . And what does taking away mobiles instruct the kids? Nothing. They have to understand, and that education begins with parents.
I implore my fellow tween and teen parents to start the lines of communication with their kids. Ask them if they’re being excluded and if others are being included by them. Check their networking apps to see what they’re posting and what they are seeing. And continue the dialogue. This is our obligation as parents of kids.