Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Bullying...Monitoring Your Own Backyard

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Pam Lutrell has written an article that is featured on Huffington Post. It is titled Another Life Lost When Will We Pay Attention. Pam wrote about the loss of a student she knew when she worked for a private school in Texas. The young person took their life because of an onslaught of social media bullying. The article was so well written and heartfelt.

As with all things that happen related to the community of students and those that are harmed by students bullying other students, my immediate reaction was that the school should have prevented this tragedy from happening. Then I began to wonder. Are we looking for or expecting something from our schools/government that we could actually in part take care of ourselves.

Taking care of my own backyard!
Social media is such a ethereal thing that even the most sophisticated user can forget that what we say is actually read and processed by a real human being somewhere and that that human may take what is said personally.

Every child has a computer in their hands and they feel such a disconnect from what they say online and the human that suffers from that action. The path from their action is leading to an epidemic of young people harming themselves. It is a very sad and seemingly unsolvable probably. But is it really? And are teens the only ones that are doing it?

I recently unfriended an outstanding writer that was on my Facebook list because that person went off on her sister-in-law. The post of hateful words included name calling. It made me feel a little sick. Social media was not the place to do that. I could only hope that the sister-in-law had a very thick skin.

I think there is a lot more of that sort of thing going on among adults than we would like to admit. The fact that a grown person is doing it and the recipient of the attack is adult seems to make it perfectly OK. The question we might ask is Would that person have the gall to say those things to their face? Somehow I think not.

The first thing that comes to mind here is that children follow their parents/teachers/families example. We all "friend" each other on social media so it is probably a given that what adults post children see.

Do you suppose there really is something even a grandmother like myself can do? Maybe so. Here is a list of possible actions to consider.
  1. Take great care with the tenor of all personal social media posts. Remember, your children/grandchildren/family/friends are watching.
  2. Never use that place as a location for personal attacks
  3. UNFRIEND/BLOCK anyone that crosses the line. Let them know why you are taking that action.
  4. Check social media often. Watch what is happening in your grandchild/child's social media world.
  5. Take immediate action on any personal attack on any children that are on your social media page.
  6. Let their parents know if you see something that is suspicious. It does take a village you know. (I have done this very thing and was grateful that I did.)
  7. Don't expect the school to take care of all your problems. Contact parents of the person that attacked your child personally even before you notify the school. If the situation is so dangerous that your child is afraid to have you do that, think about making a change at school. No child should be afraid.
  8. Always let your child know that you are their first and best advocate/protector.
  9. Say it often and comes first. No matter who or what gets to us on the outside, family is most important. It needs to be a mantra so that as children go out the door each day, they know that you are a wall around their world. 
  10. Do not as an adult ever let someone bully you on social media. Block anyone that does that. It is the seed that grows and spreads its roots out into the lives of those around us.
If we are going to stop this type of behavior, we are going to have to monitor our own backyard. The school or the law or the Internet police cannot replace the good we can do when we take care of our own world.

Think about it. And if you can add to the list of possible actions we can take, let me know. I am all ears.


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