Protecting Our Teens From Cyber-bullying!

I am angry, I am sad, I am the mother of two teenage girls!

Cyber bullies are the biggest cowards, they hide behind their computer screens and torment others. They are gutless theives of precious life, and if they were face to face with their target would probably not have the nerve to say what they do.

When is this ever going to stop?

The following is taken directly from Gammon & Chips as this tells it like it is!

In memory of Izzy Dix. Together, we must stop cyberbullying!

Last week, our dear family friend, a 14-year-old schoolgirl called Izzy Dix, died. It appeared that she’d taken her own life. And this action seemed to be linked to bullying, both at school and online.

I know that Izzy had been bullied. She had discussed it in depth with her mum, Gabbi. Izzy and her mum had the closest, strongest and most natural mother/daughter bond I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness. They had come up with strategies to try to beat the bullying together, her mum had contacted the school on many occasions, and Izzy herself had spoken to her teachers.

Izzy was an incredibly bright student. She was caring, very funny, beautiful and wise beyond her years. Gabbi is understandably utterly devastated and broken by what has occurred, as are all of us who loved her.

A lot of the bullying that Izzy was so troubled over occurred on a social media website called Ask.fm.

If you haven’t heard of this before, it’s a Latvian-based question and answer site with over 70 million registered users worldwide, the majority of whom are teenagers. It allows anyone to post anonymous comments and questions to a person’s profile and is increasingly being used to communicate abusive, bullying and sexualised content. It’s this anonymity and lack of accountability and traceability that makes it really dangerous.

I’ve spoken with Gabbi and she’s told me about a particular game that is encouraged on Ask.fm, and photo-based networks like Snapchat, called ‘Body Part For Body Part’ – where anonymous people urge others to post naked photos of themselves online. Izzy never joined in. She was really passionate about women’s rights and Gabbi has told me the fact that this particular game existed and was so prolific really bothered and affected her.

Ask.fm has already been linked to the suicides of nine young people in less than a year, with Izzy’s name tragically bringing that number to ten.

Following the Ask.fm related suicide of 14-year-old, Hannah Smith, on 2nd August this year, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, called the site ‘vile’ and told the website it needed to ‘clean up its act’. Ask.fm responded by saying it would enact various small measures on the site. All in all, a move in the right direction, but this didn’t go nearly far enough.

561113 182796345189207 1111077896 n 150x150 In memory of Izzy Dix. Together, we must stop cyberbullying.

So we are lobbying for the complete closure of Ask.fm before any more names of teens are added to that list.

At the very least, we need to permanently disable the ability to remain anonymous on this site, as this is the aspect which is causing the most damage.

The government also needs to bring in new regulations that will keep people, and young people in particular, safe on the Internet.

We need watertight procedures making social networking sites accountable for revealing the identities of trolls and cyberbullies to the authorities, so cyberbullying can easily be stopped in its tracks.

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We need police forces to take bullying seriously.

We need education programmes for schools and community groups so we can teach the power of love and kindness.

And we need support programmes for both victims and bullies.

In my opinion, Izzy is a casualty of a changed world and a society that hasn’t yet caught up.

There are 3 things you can do to help us:

  1. Urge your teens to delete their Ask.fm accounts as a mark of respect, as well as for their own safety and wellbeing. If they don’t have one yet, ban it in your household.
  2. Sign this petition and help us to lobby the government on the dangers of Ask.fm – once we get 100,000 signatures, it can get presented to the UK House of Commons.
  3. Spread this message via social media and beyond, in whatever way you can. Share on Facebook. Tweet and Retweet on Twitter. Write to your MP. Talk about it with your family and friends. Just don’t be silent.

Beyond our campaign, there are things you can do as parents too. If your children are old enough, talk to them about cyberbullying. Sit them down. Explain to them what it is, why it happens, and how they can report it. Monitor what your children are doing online. You wouldn’t let them walk down a dark dangerous street alone, so take this analogy and relate it to your children’s Internet usage. Tell them that you love them. Not once, but several times a day. Because you can never, ever, give a child too much love.

If you suspect that your children may be involved in bullying others, then you need to talk to them too. There are charities like ChildLine, The Samaritans, Beat Bullying, and The Talk Easy Trust that can help.

And when it comes to a response to bullying, we need to educate our kids to turn the other cheek, rather than become bullies themselves. Two wrongs don’t make a right. We all need to rise above this, take our hurt, anger and passion and use it to rally together for real societal change.

Izzy Dix – We love you to the moon and back. If only you could see how very much we all miss you. We will change things for the better in your name and you will never be forgotten. The world has been so privileged to have had you in it. We will all make you so proud. Rest in peace gorgeous girl.”

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Izzy Dix. RIP

One of my daughters is 14! This scares me beyond belief.

If you have teenage children, share this with them, find out if Ask.fm is a place they hang out.

Please sign the petition and let’s protect our gorgeous young children. I realise this is currently an Australian based petition, but it does affect children around the globe. Please feel free to use the postcode 4000 (Brisbane, Australia) so that you can enter.

We can only educate and be open with out children, ultimately we can not control every minute of their day.

They are worth it, I know mine sure are!

Has your child been a victim of bullying?

 

Sharing today for #IBOT with Essentially Jess

Should Parents Be Held Liable For Their Children That Bully?

“Frustrated by the rate and nature of modern bullying, the former head of the Family Court (Australia) Alastair Nicholson, is now proposing the parents of bullies should be held legally liable for the conduct of their children, and that schools should also be the subject of legal action if they fail to create a safe enviroment for their students”

Reading the Sunday Mail (Brisbane edition) a couple of weeks ago,  I came across an article ‘Targeting parents of bullies not fair’, and whilst I am not a fan of continuing down the American path of – sue anyone for anything – it sure made me ponder the thought, that IF parents were liable, would many parents out there take a different approach to teaching their children about bullying?

Bullying seems to be growing in epedemic proportions, no longer just a scuffle in the school yard! Thanks to modern technology and social media, many of todays children are raging all out war, whilst safely hiding behind their computers. I have witnessed some of the conversations that go on amoungst kids today, and it is truly horrible how some of them ‘talk’, and I am pretty sure that most of them would not have the nerve to say such things face to face.

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” – James Arthur Baldwin

This quote sums it up quite nicely and by sheer fluke appeared on my Facebook feed today, a little sign that may-be I should write this post……

Children are like sponges, they soak up EVERYTHING, filling their conscious and sub-conscious with every little event, reaction, and happening, and sets the blue-print for how they will react to the things that life throws at them.

Bullies come from all walks of life, and how they treat others can often be a reflection of how they have seen their parents interact with others and with themselves.

Parents are the teachers, their children the students, IF parents were held responsible would they rethink the lessons they are teaching their special charges? We need to ‘Lead By Example’, showing our children how we should behave around others, as some of our everyday actions are sending the wrong messages…………

  • Do you express anger at ‘bad’ drivers by yelling, honking and fist waving, rather than patiently allowing them get on their way and you on yours?
  • Do you verbally comment when someone ‘pushes’ in front of you in a que?
  • Do you take the time to REALLY listen when your child is talking to you, or are you distracted by the multitude of things you are trying to do?
  • Are you able to provide all the latest toys or electronic gadgets, but are not able to spend time with your kids?
  • Do scream and shout at the umpires and players at a sports match if you don’t like what you see?
  • Do you enjoy a good ‘bitch’ session with your friends?
  • Do you have a good relationship with your family or are there ‘wars’ happening on that front?
  • Do you complain loudly at bad or sub-par service at a restaurant or store?
  • Are you leading by example, showing compassion for others less fortunate than you?
  • Do you yell at every little thing your kids do wrong?
  • Do you ever tell your kids they are ‘stupid’, ‘useless’ or any other similar phrase?
  • Are you continually focusing on what your children do well, however small the action, to help build positive self-esteem?
  • Do you keep an eye on your kids social media interactions?
  • Do you tell your kids that is OK to stand up for yourself with physical or verbal actions?
  • How do you deal with requests from kids that want things that others have so they fit in, are you open to negotiation?
  • Do you really try to keep the lines of communication open with your kids, will they come and talk to you openly about everything happening in their lives?

We all want the best for our children, and bullying has become a scary menace that can have such tragic consequences, we as parents all need to focus on the messages our children receive from us and those in close contact, their wellbeing depends on it!

What are your views on the ever growing problem with bullying, I would love to hear them?

Bullyproofing your child, it’s NEVER to early to start!

BULLYING has got competely out of control, precious children are losing their lives, and so often no physical contact is even involved. The internet can pack a much more powerful punch than a closed fist and can share humiliating vision that the world can view in a click.

Both of my daughters have been involved in bullying incidents at school, but fortunately they were minor and short lived incidents, and for that I am grateful. I have brought up my children to be self reliant, able to speak their mind and kept the lines of communication open so that they are used to talking to me about what is happening in their lives.

As parents, we always want the best for our kids, we want to give them all that we can, we try to protect them from harm and hope that they go on live happy and valuable lives. Bullying can become a very nasty glitch in their childhood years and the earlier we start to teach our children about ALL the aspects of bullying can possibly help them be more aware and better equipped to deal with this social issue. We not only want our children to bully proof, but on the flip side, we don’t want them to be the bullies causing grief either.

The earlier that children start to learn about what bullying is and the affect their behaviour can have on others the better off they will be. Below are some great places to start:-

WHAT IS BULLYING BEHAVIOUR?

  • Taking toys that someone else is playing with
  • Pushing
  • Shoving
  • Excluding anyone from a game or activity
  • Calling names
  • Pulling faces
  • Damaging anothers possessions
  • Not sharing
  • Pulling hair
  • Pinching
  • Biting
  • Slapping
  • Hitting

Any of these behaviours are the start of bullying practice. Children need to learn that they are not acceptable and as a parent you need to choose the best way of teaching your children this message. Most importantly though, start including the word ‘bullying’ when you are dealing with these behaviours so that children start to get the message that bad behaviour and bullying are one and the same thing.

BODY LANGUAGE

From an early age, you can start to teach your children how hold themselves in a way that shows confidence to the people that are around them.

Explain to children that the body language they display, can speak much louder than words, and they won’t even be aware of it.

Help them to understand slouched shoulders and looking down = weak and scared, shoulders back and glaring = anger. Standing tall and straight, shoulders down, looking someone straight in the eye when they speak to you = calm and confident.

BE AWARE OF HOW YOU SPEAK TO THEM

Young children are like sponges, they take in everything that happens around them, sounds, sights, smells and scares are all banked into the subconsious and without realising it, these experiences can come to the surface later in life and the result is not always a positive one.

Even though kids can be frustrating at times, it is so important that we tread carefully with how we punish are chastise behaviour that is not too our liking. If we continually tell a child “you are hopeless” or “you are stupid” or anything along those lines on a regular basis, that memory will be imprinted in their subconsious and they will grow up believing they are hopeless or stupid.

It is important to teach children the error in their ways, be careful what phrases you use on a regular basis, and when they do something right make sure lot’s of loving praise flows their way, the subconscious remembers that too!!

I was fortunate enough to meet by chance a wonderful woman who has written a complete collection of programs that help your child learn about bullies and how to deal with them, ranging from 5 years to teens. She also created a ‘You Can Stop The Bully” show, which she asked me to perform (wow, right out of my comfort zone!), but I said yes, and now visit lots of Brisbane, early childhood centres and with the help of song, dance and poem, help young ones learn some valuable first steps on dealing with bullying.

If you would like to take a proactive step towards bullyproofing your child, these programs make learning fun and really are a valuable step towards your childs development. Take a positive step now and discover more at www.empoweringkidznow.com, your child is worth it.

Good Luck!