As school starts, it is a good time to start talking to your kids about cyberbulling and teaching them rules to prevent them from becoming victims.
Here’s what they need to know:
▪ Never give out personal information online, whether in instant message profiles, chat rooms, blogs or personal websites.
▪ Never tell anyone but your parents your password — not even friends.
Never miss a local story.
▪ If someone sends a mean or threatening message, don’t respond. Save it or print it out and show it to your parents.
▪ Never open e-mails from someone you don’t know or from someone you know is a bully.
▪ Don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want your classmates to see, even in e-mail.
▪ Don’t send messages when you’re angry. Before clicking “send,” ask yourself how you would feel if you received the message.
▪ Help kids who are bullied online by not joining in and by showing bullying messages to an adult.
Since most cyber-bullying takes place at home but also on their cellphones, it’s important that parents know about cyber-bullying and that they get involved in preventing it. Just like parents help their kids avoid inappropriate websites, they can protect them from cyberbullying
Here’s what parents can do:
▪ Keep your home computer in a busy area of your house. Check your child’s cellphone for messages.
▪ Set up e-mail and chat accounts with your children. Make sure that you know their screen names and passwords and that they don’t include any personal information in their online profiles.
▪ Regularly go over their instant messenger “buddy list” with them. Ask who each person is and how your children know him or her.
▪ Discuss cyber-bullying with your children and ask if they have ever experienced it or seen it happen to someone.
▪ Tell your children that you won’t blame them if they are cyberbullied. Emphasize that you won’t take away their computer privileges or phone — this is the main reason kids don’t tell adults when they are cyberbullied.
If you would like brochures on cyber-bullying or internet safety, please contact our office or email me at email@example.com. You can also contact the National Crime Prevention Council at www.ncpc.org or Connect with Kids at websource.connectwithkids.com/welcome-to-websource. They have wonderful resources on the subject.
cyberbullying has led some children to take their own lives. Perhaps these suicides could have been prevented if adults were aware of what is happening.
Check those computers, phones and iPads. Be a nosy parent. I know it’s not easy, but working with schools police, teachers and administrators can help you as a parent, as well as your child. Most important: Keep an open line of communication with your child.
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.