Religion Today: Dealing with Cyberbullies – Here’s How Parents Can Help
While remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic lowered reported instances of bullying, parents fear that, for some students, going back to school will mean going back to being bullied.
“Bullying is something we worry about, especially with the beginning of each new school year,” said Zury Bourque of her family of four in Cypress, Texas.
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Now 15 years after the inception of National Bullying Prevention Month in October, technology’s ever-greater presence in children’s lives has given bullying a new outlet. With just a click, cyberbullies can taunt, harass and threaten relentlessly, even reaching into the home via cellphone or computer. As a result, victims report feeling hopeless, isolated and
What can parents do to protect their kids? Taking an interest in their children’s online world can make a difference, says the National Parent Teacher Association.
This interest does not necessarily require parents to become tech experts. Instead, the federal stopbullying.gov site advises parents to watch for subtle clues that something is wrong, such as their child becoming withdrawn, hiding their screen when others are nearby or reacting emotionally to what is happening on their device.
For Zury Bourque and her husband Chris, that has meant being keenly aware of what “normal” looks like for their two boys, ages 12 and 10.
“Knowing my children’s moods is very important because I can then detect shifts or changes in their personalities that might signal something is going on,” Chris said.
Talking with kids openly — and often — helps too. “The more you talk to your children about bullying, the more comfortable they will be telling you if they see or experience it,” UNICEF says in its online tips for parents.
As their two daughters enter their teens, Houston parents Thiago and Auboni Cordolino have found that talking less and listening more works best. “We try to focus on being approachable and listening actively without reaction,” Thiago said.
Beyond talking, listening and observing their kids, parents should not be afraid to make and enforce rules for online activities, experts say.
The Cordolinos’ girls are allowed to play online games, but they are expected to turn off the live chat feature to limit interactions with strangers. “We reassure the girls that we trust them and respect their privacy, but they have to stay within the boundaries we’ve set,” Auboni said.
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The Bourques have taken a similar approach. “We aren’t constantly over the boys’ shoulders, watching their every move, but we use a family app that lets us know how much time they’re spending on their tablets,” Zury said.
Both families cited the tips and reminders they have considered together with their kids from free resources available on jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
One of the Bourques’ sons especially recommended one of the site’s short animated videos, “Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists.”
“I learned that if you’re being bullied, you should call someone you can trust, like parents, principals or counselors,” he said. “They can get in between the situation and make it stop.”
Submitted by Jehovah’s Witnesses – Public Information Desk
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Trevor Montgomery, 50, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).
Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.