How far is too far? A 12-year-old committed suicide last month after being bullied by her classmates. Twelve years old. That is unfathomable. This poor child took her own life by jumping from the rooftop of an abandoned concrete plant.
The looming question is: Where does the blame lay? Who is responsible for this tragedy? Should parents be held liable for
their children’s actions?
The accused, 14- and 12-year-old girls, have been arrested and charged with aggravated stalking that allegedly led to the girl’s death.
According to authorities, the 14 year old left this message as a status update on her Facebook: “Yes IK I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF.”
I’m in absolute shock over the lack of compassion and the force behind this heinous act. As a mother of a 12 year old myself, I can’t imagine the pain, the unanswered questions and world-turned-upside-down feeling the victim’s family and friends must feel.
All of this supposedly over a boy.
This needs to come to an end. We, as parents, as a community, as a country, need to work together and stop the abuse and the bullying our children are facing. Children aren’t just being bullied in school any longer. Cyber bullying has taken over and grown to dangerous levels. I know that, obviously, we can’t be with them every second of the day, monitoring their every move online or on their phones. But, the foundation of respect and safety begins at home. Parents are responsible for their children’s moral foundations. Educate your children. Support your children. Empower your children. Show them that they always have somewhere to turn and that they are never alone. Children need to know that they don’t have to be subjected to malicious treatment like that from others. They can be taught to give back the strength required to stand up for themselves.
The statistics surrounding cyber bullying are flooring.
- “Around half of teens have been the victims of cyber bullying
- Only 1 in 10 teens tells a parent if they have been a cyber bully victim
- Fewer than 1 in 5 cyber bullying incidents are reported to law enforcement
- 1 in 10 adolescents or teens have had embarrassing or damaging pictures taken of themselves without their permission, often using cell phone cameras
- About 1 in 5 teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others
- Girls are somewhat more likely than boys to be involved in cyber bullying.
- Over 80 percent of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most popular form of technology and a common medium for cyber bullying
- About half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly
- Mean, hurtful comments and spreading rumors are the most common type of cyber bullying.” (Bullyingstatistics.org)
The million dollar question is, “How can we prevent this from occurring?”
Some ways to tackle cyber bullying are:
- “Talk to teens about cyber bullying, explaining that it is wrong and can have serious consequences. Make a rule that teens may not send mean or damaging messages, even if someone else started it, or suggestive pictures or messages or they will lose their cell phone and computer privileges for a time.
- Encourage teens to tell an adult if cyber bullying is occurring. Tell them if they are the victims they will not be punished, and reassure them that being bullied is not their fault.
- Teens should keep cyber bullying messages as proof that the cyber bullying is occurring. The teens’ parents may want to talk to the parents of the cyber bully, to the bully’s Internet or cell phone provider, and/or to the police about the messages, especially if they are threatening or sexual in nature.
- Try blocking the person sending the messages. It may be necessary to get a new phone number or email address and to be more cautious about giving out the new number or address.
- Teens should never tell their password to anyone except a parent, and should not write it down in a place where it could be found by others.
- Teens should not share anything through text or instant messaging on their cell phone or the Internet that they would not want to be made public – remind teens that the person they are talking to in messages or online may not be who they think they are, and that things posted electronically may not be secure.
- Encourage teens never to share personal information online or to meet someone they only know online.
- Keep the computer in a shared space like the family room, and do not allow teens to have Internet access in their own rooms.
- Encourage teens to have times when they turn off the technology, such as at family meals or after a certain time at night.
- Parents may want to wait until high school to allow their teens to have their own email and cell phone accounts, and even then parents should still have access to the accounts.” (Bullyingstatistics.org)
Unfortunately, it takes tragic events such as this to open our eyes to the problem at hand. We are now more aware then ever of the issues associated with bullying and now, the even larger issue of cyber bullying. We need to sit down with our children, discuss the dangers and repercussions of their actions. Let them know that your door is always open for them. I have discussed bullying many times with my sons. But, in my opinion, it could never be enough. I’m scared for our children, especially the children that think this is acceptable behavior. I don’t want to hear repeated excuses from parents that they “didn’t know,” or that the child was “doing it on their own.” Stop that now. Watch your children. Know what they’re doing. Ask questions and be involved in their lives. It is our job and our responsibility to protect them.
Thoughts, comments, questions? Email me, JennKaysen@gmail.com
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