Bullying has been around forever. It’s even in Scripture! Think of the story of David and Goliath. One of the reasons people love that story so much is because the big taunting bully—Goliath—gets what he deserves at the hands of David.
Think back to when you were a teenager; bullying was alive and well then, too. You might even have experienced being bullied as a teenager. It’s no fun to feel powerless at the hands of someone who seems to be hurting you regularly just for the sport of it.
Although bullying has been around for a long time, there has been a development in recent years that has taken bullying to a whole new level. The Internet and social media have changed the world including the ushering in of a new age of what is called, “cyberbullying.” Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.
It’s one thing for a bully to stand in the school hallway and call a person names, but it’s a whole other situation for the bully to say those things on a YouTube video posted online for the world to see. Cyberbullying can take place twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Cyberbullying messages can be posted anonymously and can be distributed quickly to a very wide audience.
Today’s teenagers are facing a whole new threat that this generation of parents has never experienced. It’s important to be aware of this type of bullying. If you need to take a few hours to learn about it, do so. Be aware of this possibility occurring to your own teenager.
Talk frequently with them about their social media usage, and note any odd behaviour changes. If your teenager suddenly seems down, quiet or withdrawn, if their school performance suddenly declines or if they begin to have health problems, don’t be afraid to probe. He or she may be the unfortunate recipient of cyberbullying.
Don’t ignore this possibility. It can result in serious issues. Being proactive and aware is paramount.
We are praying for your family!
Cyberbullying is on the rise, and it’s important to be aware of this possibility with your own teenager.
What should you do if your own child is the target of cyberbullying? Today we’d like to offer just a few suggestions to get you started with a healthy response.
First of all, don’t respond. That sounds weird doesn’t it? Shouldn’t you or your teen fight back? The fact is that the “win” for an online troll is to engage you in a war of words. To type anything in response online gives them an instant victory. There are other ways to respond offline, but it’s best to just ignore an online response.
Next, save the messages. This will come in handy when you are seeking help. Take screenshots or keep a folder of all the messages that are being sent. The temptation is to just delete it so it goes away. But many cyber bullies are persistent and you might have to seek outside help to get it to stop. If you save the messages it will be much easier to help others understand what your teenager is going through.
Another great tip is to teach your teenager to protect their passwords. One type of cyberbullying is through hacking. The bully hacks an account and then proceeds to post embarrassing content towards another person. Help your teenager understand this and teach them to change their passwords regularly to protect their accounts.
Finally, don’t place the blame on your teenager. If your teen is being cyber bullied, they are a victim. Don’t use this time to tell them everything they did wrong to put themselves in this position. This is a time to comfort them and advocate for them. You can teach them how to prevent this from happening again at a later time when things have calmed down.
If your teenager is being cyber-bullied, you might have to seek outside help to stop it. But there is something deeper going on that as a parent you must be aware of: your teenager is experiencing what it’s like to be hated. Use the experience for good; help your teen understand that broken and hurting people sometimes respond to their pain by causing pain for others.
Although this makes absolutely no sense, it’s a fact of life. This probably won’t be the last time they experience something like this in their life. These experiences are also great opportunities to teach your teen about forgiveness.
Jesus knew that when evil is returned for evil, more evil is created.
That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 5:39, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”
At some point the evil behavior has to stop, and that’s when a person becomes truly powerful. Choosing to forgive instead of taking revenge reflects the character of God.
We are praying these resources give you tips and tools that encourage you in your parenting. Our ministry cares about you and your teenager, and we love serving you!