Recently the links between cyber bullying and suicide have caused many agencies to publish reports and cautionary advice about what to do to protect your adolescent in the face of the pressures they encounter on a daily basis. Megan Meier killed herself after being bullied on MySpace in 2006, and is one of the earliest reports of a teen suicide linked to online bullying. More recently, in 2013, teenager Rebecca Sedgwick jumped to her death from atop a concrete plant in an effort to escape the aggressive online bullying from two Florida classmates. Are these cases rare? How often does cyber bullying occur, and what can we do to prevent these tragedies from happening?
Federal and local agencies are publishing more and more information about how to protect yourself on the Internet, particularly through social medial platforms like Facebook and Twitter. These social media platforms are successful in promoting and communicating useful information to family and friends, but also serve as platforms where predators can hide and teens can taunt. What can you to ensure the safety of your child from cyber bulling when teenage peer pressure and “living up to everyone else’s standards” consumes their every thought?
One of the main problems with social networking is oversharing. As they mature, teens have not always figured out filters and censors for what type of information should and can be shared. They tend to post whatever is on their minds. When social networking is meant to be private, how can we still maintain authority and respect for privacy of our growing teens?
- Let them know that whatever is on any of the social media platforms can be seen outside of their immediate circle of friends (if friends share the post, and privacy settings are not regulated, etc.).
- Once posted, the words cannot be taken back. Sure, you can delete a post quickly, but there is little control over previous postings, and inability to control who saw those posts in the first place.
- Help your teen understand what information should stay private: personal information like location, birth date and place, phone number, and finances should never be shared.
- Use the privacy settings to filter who have access to posts.
Bullying of any form is dangerous and frightening to victims, and in the past came in the forms of beatings, taunting, ridicule and abandonment. Now, with the Internet, public bashing is also out there for others to see. Help protect you and your child by being aware of the information that is published, and having some control over what others see.
If you or someone you know is suffering the abuses of any type of bullying, physical or cyber, seeking the advice of a reputable law firm will help you make sure the case is under control and proper precautions are taken to stop the activity before it is too late.