Cyber bullying has become more and more common with the ongoing advances of modern technology. Emails, Facebook, instant messaging and now...mobile apps are some of the channels through which cyber bullying takes place.
In a recent article published by News24, two high school students created an app that allowed users to anonymously name and shame their teachers, parents and others students. Outraged, teachers took to the police and lawyers to have the matter disputed in court.
Bullying has been a problem in schools for years and at some point every child will come across it, whether they witness it personally or through others.
There are countless articles and advice columns to do with the victims of bullying, how to avoid it, how to detect whether your child is being bullied etc, but do parents know enough about the bullies themselves? Would you be able to recognise if your child was involved in cyber bullying and what would you do to stop it?
Parents in denial
No parent likes to accept that their child might actually be the aggressor (gulp) when it comes to bullying and kids are great at convincing their parents that they'd never be involved in that sort of behaviour.
More than often parents are more concerned about whether or not their child is a victim of bullying and parents are the first to take action if it is assumed that their child is a victim of cyber bullying.
If a parent discovers that their child is responsible for cyber bullying it might be natural for them to want to defend their child, but it's important to understand the entirety of the situation before jumping to the conclusion that their child wasn't in fact the cause for upset.
What can parents do?
With today's technological advances parents may feel at a loss when it comes to making sure their children are using technology responsibly.
Today's technology is influencing your child more than ever, so get with the programme and be up to date when it comes to new social forums and trends amongst teens.
According to Ditch The Label, a comprehensive website about cyber bullying stats, young people are found to be twice as likely to be bullied on Facebook than on any other social network.
Many parents and their children are Facebook friends. If you're on your child's friends list, observe how your child expresses him/herself when posting statuses or commenting on posts. Facebook is a great way to see how people interact when they're not face to face with others and bullies tend to use this as a way to say things they wouldn't ordinarily say in person.
Make sure you understand the whole story; how it started, what was said and who was involved before you assume who is the bully is.
If your child been involved in bullying someone else, it doesn't make you a bad parent to acknowledge this and reprimand accordingly. It might prevent cyber bullying from becoming a habit or a way to gain attention if you pay special attention to the situation.
Teach your child to take/accept responsibility for his/her part in the situation.
Freedom of speech vs hate speech
Teach your kids the difference between freedom of speech and hate speech. Freedom of speech involves being allowed to express yourself in such a way that contributes opinion, insight and relevance without defaming or speaking aggressively about someone.
Praise your child when they show integrity or when they're able to make the better of a negative situation that involves someone else.
Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
Have you ever had a tricky parenting situation when it comes to your child and bullying? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.