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Putting an End to Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying has been getting a lot of attention in the news lately due to recent tragic incidents involving two youths over the past few months. It is important to get the necessary information to parents, teens, tweens and school personnel so that we can all help to create safe and tolerant environments for the youth at school and in our communities. Doing so is one step towards prevention of cyberbullying.

Recently, the Center for Safe and Responsible Use of Internet released a study on cyberbullying, its effects, and possible ways of preventing/intervening. The study identified several types of cyberbullying:

Flaming: online fights using electronic messages that are hurtful and vulgar

Harassment: Repeatedly sending offensive, hurtful and derogatory messages

Denigration: Making degrading remarks about another online

Impersonation: Pretending to be someone else online and making comments to embarrass or get the person in trouble

Outing: Sharing someone’s personal secrets or embarrassing information and images online

Trickery: Talking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information and then sharing it online

Exclusion: Intentionally and cruelly excluding someone from an online chat group or other online group

Cyberstalking: repetitive intense harassment that includes threats or creates a climate of fear.

It is important for parents, teachers and children to know the definitions and types of cyberbullying so they can properly identify it when they see it, report it and intervene.

Prevention tips:

One idea is for parents to post rules of conduct next to the computer where the child is socializing online. Make sure the rules of conduct are detailed, clear and concise.

When the child begins to socialize online, parents should let them know that doing so is a privilege and that they must exercise social responsibility to continue having that privilege. Parents should also make it clear that they will oversee all online socializing.

All children should be instructed to tell their friends what they are allowed and not allowed to do online, to end conversations with those who break their own rules of conduct and to tell their parents what has occurred.

If parents notice signs of aggression, depression and/or anxiety in their child, they should seek out immediate help from a mental health professional.

Please see the link for the article related to cyberbullying (http://www.apapracticecentral.org/update/2010/03-31/cyberbullying.aspx) and the list of Web sites for more information.

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