This week, I want to share with parents a study that Crime Watch Education Director Joel Mesa came across. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at 305-470-1670.
Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, manipulate and destroy a child. Technology has given bullies a whole new platform for their actions. Cyberbullying can happen at home, as well as at school, and it can happen essentially 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
As long as kids have access to phones, computers or other devices they are at risk. Cyberbullying affects both boys and girls. However, from tweens to teens to young adults, girls have it worse when it comes to faceless bullies online, according to the Cyberbullying Research Center.
More than one in five girls in the U.S. will experience cyberbullying, compared to fewer than one in 10 boys, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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HuffPost recently interviewed Andrea Bastiani Archibald, a child psychologist and Chief Girl and Parent Expert at Girl Scouts of the USA. She shared her thoughts on the effect of cyberbullying on girls, and prevention techniques that parents should incorporate to protect their daughters from the ills of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is particularly dangerous because it has an invasive “round-the-clock” quality. While children used to be able to seek respite from bullying away from school, nowadays when it happens online, it feels constant, endless and even more public.
Studies at the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) show that girls place a high value, and often define their own self-worth, in relation to their friendships, social status and connection to others.
Parents should ask their daughters how kids treat each other at their school and online. Ask what happens when kids don’t treat each other kindly and/or engage in bullying behavior. Have these conversations regularly and frequently.
Just as parents want to stay in the know about whom their daughter is spending time with and where she’s going in person, parents need to do the same in the digital and social media space. They should ask their daughters whom they’ve been chatting with, what they like about those friends and which things about them they might be annoyed by. With younger children, spot check their text messages. It’s important for parents to teach their children what types of communication are best had in person and what types are best had online to resolve a conflict.
According to one survey, only 33 percent of teens report when they are being harassed online. Therefore, an ongoing communication between parents and children is critical, so that when something is going on, the youngster will be more likely to come to their parents. Too often, girls are confused or embarrassed by what’s going on, and may feel like they should handle situations on their own.
If you think your daughter is being bullied online or off, talk with her about your interest in alerting her teacher or an administrator at school to simply take a closer look at what’s going on. She needs to know you’re on her team.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.