In cyberspace, bullies can hide and cheaters can prosper. With a new school year on the horizon, security firm McAfee looked at the disconnect between bullying, cheating teens, and their parents’ awareness — or lack thereof.
Almost a quarter of kids ages 10 to 17 have witnessed online cruelty — 89 percent of which takes place on Facebook. But when only 10 percent of parents are aware of cyber bullying, most teens are left to fend for themselves, often with disastrous real-world consequences.
As a result of online interactions, 29 percent of teenagers have had an argument with a friend; another 22 percent have even ended a friendship with someone. Meanwhile, 13 percent of kids have feared for their safety or been afraid to go to school following an episode of cyber bullying.
Though parents claim to regulate and monitor their child’s online behavior, many admit that they are overwhelmed by technology, outsmarted by their own kids, and simply can’t keep up with online advancements, McAfee said.
That loophole allows kids to find new ways of hiding their activities, which are sometimes illegal or just plain mean.
“Parents must realize that young people are aware of the threats associated with risky online activity, yet will continue to engage in this behavior,” the security firm said. “Therefore, simply monitoring your child’s behavior and implementing parental controls are not enough. Many young people know how to bypass these barriers!”
Instead, parents should engage their kids at a young age in dialogue about how to be safe online, and what to do when they feel threatened or uncomfortable.
McAfee also encourages discussion about guidelines for using the Internet, especially for school-related purposes, as virtual cheating is on the rise. In this always-connected world, kids have to look no further than their cell phone for the answers — no more scribbling math equations on your arm or writing book passages on the bottom of your shoe.
In fact, 15 percent of people ages 10 to 23 have cheated on a test using a mobile device; more than half of all teens and college students have intentionally looked up the answer to a test or assignment online.
“So what do we as parents do to help change this negative behavior?” Robert Siciliano, McAfee online security expert, wrote in a blog post. “We must stay in-the-know. Since your kids have grown up in an online world, they may be more online savvy than you, but you can’t give up.”
In January, Nadin Khoury, a 13-year-old from Pennsylvania, suffered a beat-down at the hands and feet of a group of bullies who intended to post the video on YouTube. Social media sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, have been under fire as attack sites used by teens to bully and harass their peers, but Nadin was able to use this video to help catch six of his attackers.
Khoury, whose family recently immigrated to the United States from Liberia, endured 30 minutes of brutality, in which his bullies repeatedly kicked and punched him. They hung him, by his clothing, upside down from a tree and from a six-foot fence. The attack didn’t stop until a woman passing by came back and was able to chase the boys away form their victim.
The six attackers caught, ages 13 to 17, face charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment and reckless endangerment.
Other Teen Attackers Caught on Video
There are previous instances of other attacks on teenagers being caught on video. One such incident is the 2008 attack on 16-year-old Victoria Lindsay. The teen had to seek hospital treatment for injuries. Victoria was lured to a friend’s house for the purpose of catching the attack on tape, to post to MySpace and YouTube.
Police learned of the video and were able to use it to identify the female suspects involved in the plot. Eight girls, ages 14 to 18, were charged with false imprisonment and battery.
Phoebe Prince’s Bullies Caught on Facebook
Phoebe Prince is another teen immigrant, from Ireland, who was also relentlessly bullied by her classmates. The vicious assault came in part through text messages and via Facebook. In January 2010, the 15-year-old committed suicide in her family’s Massachusetts home as a result. On the day of her death, one of her alleged attackers posted “accomplished” on Phoebe’s Facebook page. Six teens were arrested in the case, on charges of relentless bullying, identified in part by Facebook postings.
Prince’s case is another example of how bullies can be caught through the social media they use to harass their targets. Such bulling would not have had as much proof in the past, with most of the evidence being hearsay, leaving little evidence to charge bullies for their crimes.
Anti-Bullying Awareness Spreads on Social Media
Anti-bulling advocates are using the social media platforms used to harass teens to spread the message against bullying. They are turning these social platforms into a means to prevent the crimes from ever happening, not just as a means to catch attackers. The It Gets Better Project is a YouTube channel geared toward telling LBGT teenagers that their lives will improve and not to give up hope. The videos also spread the message that bullying teens who are perceived as different is not okay.
The channel is a response to an outbreak of suicides of LGBT teenagers, such as 15-year-old Billy Lucas, who hung himself in his grandmother’s barn. Lucas was called a “f–” by bulling classmates and told to go kill himself.
What a shockingly beautiful boy Jamie Hubley was. The ruddy hair, the smokin’ wide grin, that shy downward look — I’m wild and bold but, um, maybe not so much, the look seemed to say — as he sang Lady Gaga’s new song, “Born This Way,” on YouTube.
Jamie was only 15, which is why I’m journalistic ethics-wise allowed to refer to him by his first name, as if he were a friend of mine. And how I wish he had been. This kid could have helped my sadness, I could have helped his, he would have brought credit and affection and candour to everyone who knew him, but now he’s dead, no chance now.
When brightness falls, it falls so hard. Watch Jamie singing. He doesn’t get the low notes quite right. It makes your heart crack.
The Ottawa schoolboy died Saturday of human cruelty, profoundly depressed after years of being bullied for being gay. He killed himself. I’m astonished to read that he was being hounded even in Grade 7 — students tried to stuff batteries down his throat on the school bus after he chose figure skating over ice hockey — but then I remember Grade 7 and what little animals we were.
We were allowed to behave like rodents then, sharp-toothed and scurrying in packs, looking to munch on whatever was available, including each other.
The starter efforts at talking openly about teen suicide give the best advice extant, that time is a healer, that this too shall pass. Jamie wrote in his online suicide note: “It’s just too hard. I don’t want to wait three more years, this hurts too much. How do you even know it will get better? It’s not.”
You can’t tell a 15-year-old to wait three years. To him, it sounds like 30, which to a teenager is practically dead anyway. And when I look at middle-aged people, including many in public life, who can’t admit publicly that they’re gay, it’s clear that time heals nothing. We all fear bullying.
Foolishly, I thought this was generational and that kids were taught to be different now, more humane. As schools become multiracial, girls dare to speak up in class and be smart and everyone’s online and typing out the contents of their souls, I assumed that kids like Jamie, who wanted to sing or act rather than just go into thick-necked grunting mode for the course of their adolescence, would find a place to flourish.
I was wrong. The kids who called Jamie names in the hallway, who tore down his posters for a Rainbow club at A.Y. Jackson Secondary School (this was the school he moved to in an effort to escape bullies), the teenagers who mocked him online, we all went to school with those kids. Maybe we were those kids. Maybe we still are.
There a little dark creature inside all of us, a homunculus as it was known in the Middle Ages, or a tiny human. He is filled with meanness. I always imagine him looking like one of the black pond tadpoles I remember from childhood, little slippery lumps of menace. (In fact, of course, they were harmless and the neighbourhood boys should not have set them on fire.)
Well, there’s a little hate generator in every one of us and he’s the source of the bullying we see in politics, school, workplaces, hockey rinks, talk radio, yell TV, tabloid newspapers and especially online. We live in a bullying culture, in which I suggest you not be gay or a native Canadian or unemployed or in any non-powerful group. Don’t go online if you’re vulnerable.
But who spends the most time online, aside from the old Angry Pajamas of extremist politics? Teenagers, naturally.
If it helps to personalize it, picture your inner nasty as the icon you see on the doors of public toilets, but armed with a pitchfork. Instantly recognizably as Average Guy, he doesn’t just live inside the kids who helped drive Jamie to suicide, he lives inside all of us.
The trick of being civilized is that we silence him when he pokes our mean gland. And he’s not necessarily male. Females are talented bullies with a real eye for where the shiv will do the most emotional damage. No? Rent Mean Girls and see what I mean.
High school is the distillation of our lives, with a term limit, filled with cliques and home to the best and worst of our traits. Remember those hallways lined with lockers, which I recall happily but now realize must have seemed to the bullied kids like a gauntlet they had to run over and over, five days a week. What I wonder is if Jamie’s tormentors understand even now what they did and why.
As Jamie wrote in his last post on his Tumblr blog, “To the people who didn’t like me (many) a big f –k you. Go ride a unicorn.”
And then he adds, “But we love you anyway.”
Even as he headed for death, he had to add, in a clause from a naturally kind heart, some forgiveness for his tormentors.
I cannot get over this.
I’m hoping the schoolmates who mocked and tormented Jamie can’t get over it either. They’re not going to be better people until they confront their own cruelty.
We won’t stigmatize bullying until we force the bullies to understand what they do what they do, that an ugly voice emerges from the black dot inside you, urging you on to call kids like Jamie a “fag.”
Depression was Jamie’s constant, the kind of depression that is implacable in the face of total family love, medical care, counselling and loyal friends. Jamie’s father, Allan, wrote in his public statement that for most of his life, Jamie was “a happy and confident child.” Later, though, he asked “a question no child should have to ask — why do people say mean things to me?”
Hubley pointed out that cyber-bullying has created a new problem. There is no longer any refuge. “Children often feel there is no safe place to go; even when they are at home they can still be victims.”
Jamie knew his tormentors were reading his blog. “You bent me until I broke. Happy? You win,” he wrote just days before he killed himself. A student at his school wrote on the new R.I.P. Jamie website, “I had seen him earlier that day [the day of his death] and he had cuts all over his wrists, his arms, even his face.”
This matches Jamie’s single sentence entry, “Cut my face.” At this point he was in such despair that he no longer minded handing the confessional gift of his pain to those who were out to hurt him. A day later he quoted from another blog, a list of wounds that would not be the list of a depressed university student or a dentist or rape victim. It is quintessentially high school. It includes being “the first one to ask to hang out, the only one to try, not being invited.”
“F— high school and f— having shitty friends.” These words aren’t the whole truth of Jamie’s life but only the last miserable segment of it.
Look at his face as his handsome father proudly poses with his hand on the shoulder of his beloved child. Jamie, in a dress shirt with black bow tie, had clearly been in the spotlight. The photograph radiates love and happiness and is the portrait Allan Hubley chose to represent the bond he had with his 15-year-old darling.
What chills me is that Jamie’s bullies probably thought this picture was funny. I hope they’re not laughing now.
If they are, they haven’t learned to suppress their inner dark voice, the little hate lump urging them to deflect the hate that might come their way.
“You can’t break when you’re already broken.” That was the title of Jamie’s blog and the last words he saw. He was gay and bullies broke him.
Now we will have to reassemble our memories and our morals so that maybe no one like Jamie breaks again. But I suspect there will be other Jamies.
But what if none of it is enough? What if all of it misses the mark? What if preventing bullying is as simple as paying closer attention? The research indicates this may be the case.
Stan Davis, a social worker and school counselor and founder of Stop Bullying Now, was a recent guest on Body, Mind and Child. Joining him for the discussion were Karin Frey, an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, and Sarah Sparks, who pens “Inside School Research” for Education Week and who has written quite a bit about social aggression.
According to the Stop Bullying Now website, there is adult intervention in only 4 percent of bullying incidents. Davis indicated during our conversation that that’s an older statistic but didn’t say whether or not it was now higher. Still, even if it’s, say, 100 percent higher, it’s a startling figure. How could there be so little adult involvement in an issue as huge and as potentially damaging as bullying?
Here are some of the reasons my guests cited:
Dr. Frey’s research adds further support to the contention that adults aren’t paying enough attention. She discovered that gossip contributes greatly to bullying and certainly can lead to physical disputes. But her study showed that teachers were unable to identify playground gossip even though it was “semi-public in nature” and gossip sessions lasted quite a while. I asked how that could be. The answer: the gossips are rarely the kids who are problems in class. In other words, they don’t fit most adults’ idea of what a bully “looks like.”
And here was yet another reason why teachers fail to intervene: There’s much confusion about what constitutes bullying. “It’s only bullying if… ” One significant ending to that sentence is “… the behavior is perpetrated by those kids we expect to be bullies.” We don’t imagine that friends would bully each other, but my guests assured me that bullying does indeed occur between and among friends.
Given the amount of attention bullying receives in the media, I thought that everything possible was being done to eradicate this problem. At the very least, I thought that teachers and parents would know it when they saw it. Clearly, I was wrong.
Stan Davis offered this succinct piece of advice for teachers and parents: “If we see mean behavior we should stop it.” But first, of course, we have to see it! For more advice from my guests, click here.
An 18-week sentence for Sean Duffy, a young man who posted astonishingly malevolent messages on a Facebook memorial page, one set up to mourn Natasha MacBryde, a teenager who had committed suicide, has been attacked by some people as too lenient. Another bereaved parent, who feels he may also be Duffy’s victim, thought 18 months would be more like it. Duffy, aged 25, was the second such offender to be prosecuted under the Malicious Communications Act; last year, Colm Cross was jailed for posting obscenities on Facebook tribute sites, including that of Jade Goody.
That Duffy suffers from Asperger’s, according to his defence lawyers, was not allowed to mitigate his serial targeting of bereaved families, a hobby which seems to have emerged in the trollosphere in response to MySpace and Facebook tribute pages to dead teenagers, producing not only deliberately offensive satire of the often banal contributions on such pages, but episodes of actual harassment. The parents of Mitchell Henderson, a teenager from Rochester, Minnesota, who shot himself in 2006, were subjected to a year and a half of nuisance calls as well as defacements of his MySpace memorial page.
Henderson’s father described this experience for the New York Times. “They’d say, ‘Hi, I’m Mitchell’s ghost, the front door is locked. Can you come down and let me in?'”
Priding themselves at least as much on their expertise as on their cruelty, committed trolls seem no more likely to be deterred by Duffy’s sentence than they are by media condemnation quoting persecuted families, such as the parents of Madeleine McCann.
Would that not, for a sadist, be just the ticket? Moreover, in a riveting interview published in Index on Censorship, an anonymous troll, calling himself Paulie Socash, also connects this form of mischief with a high-minded commitment to free speech, along with an equally grand, obviously insurmountable distaste for phoney sentiment, sanctimony, idées reçues. “We despise the smugness and arrogance of the average internet user or entrepreneur,” he informed Whitney Phillips, “but most of us also realise the real irony that everything we do drops more pennies in the pockets of those who control the actual virtual spaces. Honestly, Mark Zuckerberg has made millions because of trolls.”
As for the focus on online memorials, Socash explains, trolls are ridiculing the focus on cute kids and offering, with their savagery, a troll-style rebuke to users who are “too ignorant” to keep strangers off their pages. Even if you wish it came from more sympathetic quarter, he surely has a point. Why would you not take care, on such a page, to confine condolences to people who were friends? Unless, as Facebook intends, such pages already look feeble, to many of its clients, if they do not reflect its debased, numerical view of friendship, featuring contributions from chance acquaintances, friends of friends, complete strangers who saw it in the news or noticed on a site such as the old mydeathspace.com (which used to direct interested trolls to memorial pages).
What exposes parents – and, more frighteningly, cyber-bullied children – to the attentions of a freak is surely not so much lack of geekish knowhow as participation in a culture that pretends an ever-growing crowd of names and data amounts to a set of human relationships. Either way, as Paulie Socash says, Facebook makes money out of it.
Some have compared Duffy’s crime to the defacement of a real memorial; actually, he was scribbling on the kind of edifice that is all too often, thanks to Facebook’s raison d’etre, inherently degraded. A contribution such as: “I didn’t know you but I have herd your story” now counts, for some reason, as worth having, along with the recommendation of a thumbs-up sign beneath the stranger’s condoling, confirming that X or Y “likes this”.
Mercifully, the number of memorial pages is small. Not to defend the unspeakable Duffy, but you could argue that his contributions to what Jaron Lanier has called, in his terrific You are Not a Gadget, “a culture of sadism online”, were no more offensive, in their way, than anonymous contributions that reach a much wider audience, from the “RIP Raoul Moat you legend” Facebook page through to the more fluent invective and character-assassination that is now standard on newspaper websites and other intelligent online places, even, incredibly, on Mumsnet. As Lanier says: “It would be nice to believe that there is only a minute troll population living among us.”
In practice, you find shameless homophobic abuse on the Daily Telegraph‘s website, lolz about dead public school boys from a professional writer on Twitter, jests from a US academic about a raped reporter, another distinguished scholar, Orlando Figes of the University of London, trying to destroy a rival historian on Amazon, and now Johann Hari, secretly prosecuting his curious personal vendettas on Wikipedia.
Anonymous malice is, you might think, most readily forgiven when it is most unforgivable: when the authors are educated, prepared to threaten libel actions and, even, already command prominent platforms for self-expression. Then again, as Lanier has argued, it is ready, online anonymity that tempts all these wrongdoers. From Duffy to Hari, websites just encourage them. The “troll-evoking design” he characterises as: “Effortless, consequence-free, transient anonymity in the service of a goal, such as promoting a point of view, that stands entirely apart from one’s identity or personality. Call it drive-by anonymity.”
Duffy’s 18 weeks for extreme drive-by nastiness is certainly harsh when compared with more privileged trolls, for whom re-education or a period of disgrace are considered ample. But it is in comparison with episodes of sustained bullying, of the living, that his punishment looks most disproportionate. That Natasha MacBryde’s suicide was preceded, according to evidence given at her inquest, by “teasing” from a clique at her private school, then, still in her lifetime, by anonymous abuse on the Formspring website, caused less consternation than the later, random tormenting of her parents, which the coroner called “vile and disgusting”.
A similarly restrained reaction, in comparison to the revelations of memorial trolling, greeted last week’s report from the EHRC, “Hidden in Plain Sight“, exposing a level of harassment, attacks and bullying of disabled people that is so commonplace, yet so rarely taken seriously, that many victims hardly bother to complain, staying housebound instead.
The lead inquirer, Mike Smith, who was himself harassed in the 90s, with “cripple” and swastikas painted on his front door, expressed amazement that this kind of barbarity is still widespread.
“It’s not just some extreme things happening to a handful of people; it’s an awful lot of unpleasant things happening to a great many people, almost certainly in the hundreds of thousands each year.”
If – and it is hard to reconcile with free speech – the random malice of a Duffy is better punished by imprisonment than, say, by merciless public exposure, it would indeed be a sick and weird society that put such prosecutions before action to deal with the tormenting of people who can’t simply log off.
When the video of poor Casey Heynes aka The Punisher hit the internet it had many disbelieving how brazen bullies can be, it now seems long gone are the days of bullies restricting their movements to the playground and they are now venturing online and becoming cyberbullies.
There are many people trying to stamp out this new wave of cyberbullying, back in March Maddy Rowe brought us news on the US stepping in with Barrack Obama backing an anti-bullying campaign, now the next country to step up to the plate and say no to Facebook bullies is France.
This new campaign is being backed by both French Educational Minister Luc Chatel and the social network itself, their quest to squash this online behaviour will involve singling out students that have bullied other people through the network, once singled out these people will then have their accounts closed. You can read more about this in this post from Allfacebook.com.
Although the two parties hope to kick this campaign into full swing as soon as possible there is still a little bit of confusion regarding how they will define what constitutes as cyberbullying, for more serious cases Chatel had this to say “we will ensure that the victim’s relatives have a system to file complaints. This will be made available through a partnership with the Central Office dedicated to fight cyber-crimes.”
It’s good to see more people actively getting involved to try and stem the constant abuse that some people are put through when using social networking sites, have you ever experienced any kind of negativity whilst using sites like Facebook?
Bullies and those being bullied are more likely to be experiencing family violence at home, a new report issued by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and prepared together with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has found. The researchers found that among middle and high school pupils across the state, encounters of family violence were more common among young people who had both taken part in bullying and been victims of it.
Since the two suicides in 2009 – Phoebe Prince, 15, in South Hadley, and Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, in Springfield – bullying has been a big theme in Massachusetts, leading to anti-bullying laws in 2010 which ban bullying both online and in schools. Since the new legislation, schools have had to develop bullying intervention and prevention policies.
The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) report explains that a growing body of evidence has been linking family violence with bullying. The authors write that they gathered and analyzed data from the Massachusetts Youth Health Survey (2009), an anonymous, paper and pencil survey carried out every 24 months.
There are considerable differences in risk factors contributing to individuals involved in varying categories of bullying, compared to those who have never been active bullies or victims of it.
The AORs (adjusted odds ratios) for middle school pupils for being physically hurt by a member of the family were:
For being witnesses of family violence the AORs were:
The authors say adjustments were made for factors which might alter the figures, such as the individuals age, sex, race and ethnicity.
The AORs for high school pupils for witnessing violence in the family were:
For being witnesses of family violence the AORs were:
In order to develop effective bullying intervention and prevention strategies, the authors say schools and health departments are finding that it is vital to include involvements in families.
The Massachusetts Youth Health Survey defines bullying as being “repeatedly teased, threatened, hit, kicked, or excluded by another student or group of students.”
In the Massachusetts Youth Health Survey, which involves hundreds of schools in the state, pupils were asked two questions (among many):
Below are some highlighted results from this study:
A higher percentage of bully-victims were exposed to violent family encounters compared to bullies.
The authors wrote that those associated with bullying are more likely to be involved in substance abuse, attempt or consider suicide, and have poor academic grades.
It was clear that bullies and their victims were much more likely to be physically hurt by a member of the family, or witness family violence compared to those who claimed they had never been bullied.
The authors wrote:
“A comprehensive approach that encompasses school officials, students and their families is needed to prevent bullying among middle school and high school students.”
“Bullying Among Middle School and High School Students – Massachusetts, 2009”
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) April 22, 2011 / 60(15);465-471
I still remember the fear I felt. I remember my heart rate rising as the adrenaline pumped through my veins. I can still hear his laugh as he choked me with my own hoodie (not to the point of not breathing- just enough to humiliate me). I remember the look of the other guys at my lunch table. Everyone one of them had found something really interesting on their lunch trays because they couldn’t take their eyes off of whatever is it was.
I couldn’t blame them. This guy was much bigger and much meaner than any of us.
This boy was constant. My entire sixth grade year was ruined because this kid wouldn’t let up. No matter what I did, he never stopped.
I still remember the shame I felt. I can still feel my checks burning as wave after wave of embarrassment slammed into me. I remember standing in the gym, in line at lunch, and in the hallways as kids made fun of what I was wearing.
You see, my dad’s roofing business closed just before I went into middle school. As he waited for other job opportunities; money was tight. There wasn’t much for clothing and none for name brand shoes. I wore whatever shoes we could afford.
I’m not complaining. I was well taken care of. I never needed for anything. But kids can be cruel. So when they saw some letters and numbers on my shoes that weren’t like the other kids, they came on like vultures.
I can recall talking with one young woman; we’ll call her Sally. I had another student come to me with a rumor about Sally. I knew Sally and her family well, and knew this rumor to be completely untrue. I also knew that if Sally heard it at school- it would devastate her. I quickly said a prayer as I dialed her number.
Sally answered the phone and I began to let her know what I had heard. I tried to reassure her that I knew it to be untrue and that everyone else would as well. She said that she would take care of it and thanks for calling. I immediately contacted her parents as well.
After an hour or so, I went to see Sally and her family. I could tell that she had been crying and crying hard. No words of comfort could help. She was destroyed. This rumor attacked who she was, it attacked all she tried to be.
I remember one young man; we’ll call him Johnny. Johnny was a young man with the sweetest disposition who happened to have a mental handicap. He was loving and very kind and never judged people by what they looked like or what they wore. All of which are truly strengths but never fail to be recognized as weaknesses.
Certain kids in his class saw them as a weakness and pounced. He was in math class. He was standing next to his desk; humming a tune to himself. The next moment he was writhing on the floor howling in pain. One of the bullies in his class had walked up and punched him with everything he had. Johnny didn’t stand a chance. He crumpled to the floor and rolled around for several moments before other students helped him up.
I’ll never forget the sound of his cry.
I remember my little brother in sixth grade. He rode the bus home every day. There was an eighth grade boy we’ll call him Homer (yes I’m poking fun). Homer decided that one day he was going to start calling my brother “Elliot” from E.T. My brother looks nothing like this character, so at first he just ignored it. But every day; there was Homer, ready to start chanting “Elliot! Elliot! Elliot!” For weeks this taunting continued until my brother finally came to us.
I was in high school at the time and I knew Homer. So I rode the bus for days waiting to have a talk with him. After our talk (and yes, that’s all it was) he never said another word to my brother.
This past week two girls in Minnesota committed suicide by hanging themselves, because they felt like outcasts in their middle school. They were bullied. One of the girls even left a note detailing her funeral.
Do you need more examples? This week was the 12th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.
Another — Two weeks ago a Winfield teenager was arrested for plotting another Columbine “attack” on his school.
Need more? Turn on this evening’s local or national news.
According to education.com, 160,000 students miss school every day for fear of being bullied. Fifty suicides a year are linked to prolonged bullying and approximately 85 percent of all school shootings have revenge against bullies as a major motive.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can do something about it. But it starts with us; the parents. If we aren’t shepherding our children then someone will. And the people they become will be out of our control.
So I asked parents what their greatest fear was when it came to bullying. The answer varied slightly, but it boiled down to two basic fears:
So as parents what do we do to ensure that our children communicate with us and/or that they don’t become the bully? Well, seeing how this issue isn’t new to this generation I have been afforded the opportunity to work with some amazing parents over the last decade. They have taught my wife and I some awesome tips on this very topic and I would like to share those with you.
Let’s address the fear of our students being bullied first. Here is what my wife and I have learned:
As a middle school student who was bullied, my home was a safe haven. It was an oasis. On days where I was really picked on, I looked forward to walking in my front door and being greeted by my parents, my brother, my dog and ready to play with my neighborhood friends. I can remember sitting in my room talking with my parents about what was happening and the support that I got. I never felt pressured or threatened to tell or act a certain way. I just knew that no matter what happened anywhere else, that I was loved at home. Honestly, it made all the difference.
But how do we help our children see what bullying can do to others? How do we instill the values in our kids that will guide them to respect others? Here are a few suggestions to help you along the way:
The point is, bullying isn’t about statistics. It is about people. Young people. People trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in this world. If we as friends, brothers, sisters, and parents don’t fight for these children; who will?
Danish director Susanne Bier added Oscar winner to her resume in late February when “In a Better World” won Best Foreign Film just as it had at the Golden Globes.
The film won’t be opening in the US until April 1st, but it could not come at a more appropriate time given its subject matter.
The film follows the struggles of 10 year old Elias (Markus Rygaard) who is bullied constantly at his school.
Although the administration sees what is going on and his parents seek its help in putting an end to it, the teachers try to spin it by blaming Elias’ social struggles on the recent separation of his parents.
Elias’ father (Mikael Persbrandt) travels frequently to Africa where he works as a doctor in a refugee camp, leaving his son without the support he may need.
Luckily, for Elias, a new boy transfers to the school, Christian (William Johnk Nielson), who has recently moved to town following his mother’s death.
Christian stands up for Elias, but it isn’t until he threatens the bullies with a knife that they finally back off.
From there, Christian launches a plan to seek revenge on a man who had an altercation with Elias’ father. The film goes on to explore the ways in which people stand up for themselves and run society when authority figures can’t control what is going on.
The film escalates to some graphic and disturbing moments, but told through the eyes of the young boys it’s easy to see how people can be driven to snap back and stand up for themselves.
In the past few weeks the topic of bullying has been making headlines after a video surfaced of an Australian teen who is shown body slamming a bully who had provoked him moments earlier. While violent, many people are proclaiming the bullied teen who fought back to be a hero and within his rights to do so.
President Obama held a press conference on bullying earlier this month where he reacted to an 11 year old who hanged himself after being tormented at school. Obama said, “No family should have to go through what these families have gone through. No child should feel that alone.”
Susanne Bier paints a clear picture that transcends language and cultures to look at a reality so many children across the world are facing.
The young actors play their roles so genuinely, and the character of Christian in particular has such a mature yet volatile nature to him.
This well-made film is definitely Oscar worthy and something that Americans should see as it should spark some interesting and constructive discussions on bullying.