Is your child being targeted?

How can they call me such names on FB!It's horrible!
How can they call me such names on FB!It's horrible!

The internet has been an all pervasive and explosive medium of communication that has penetrated every aspect of our life and has influenced just about everything around us.  There are conflicting views, changes in what is acceptable and what is not and demands for accountability and greater transparency with regard to what goes on. The problem is people don’t know quite who to hold responsible as the giants in the arena bring out newer networking and technology resources. It goes without saying that every Garden of Eden has its snake and it is up to us to remain vigilant about what goes on. An increasingly scary and difficult problem to deal with has come up with the blatant cyber bullying that is happening across the internet all over the world.

Cyber bullying refers to the misuse of technology in order to deliberately harass, injure, harm or behave in a hostile manner towards other individuals or groups. It may be something as simple as sending continuous emails to an individual who has asked not to be disturbed or more severe such as online stalking, creating false profiles, threats, remarks of a sexual nature and more. Cyber bullies may also hack into the accounts of the individual to access personal data or even pose as them and engage in malicious activity to defame them or make things difficult. Online threats and intimidation does not necessarily come from external sources or from older individuals. There have been more than enough cases of it happening as young as in students who are in 2nd grade.

Cyber bullying refers to harassment happening between kids and teens.  Educating and informing kids about practices and activities which are classified as cyber bullying would be a wise measure that schools can take in addition to letting them know the consequences for doing something like that. Informing kids about the implications of such activities will ensure that kids know the boundaries and will not indulge in petty or criminal behavior that can damage both their own future and that of the victim as well. Posting pictures and wrongful captions or comments, stalking someone online, sending anonymous or other threats, remarks on the individual, posting content that is damaging to another publicly online, harassing or black mailing someone can all lead to serious criminal charges.

As a parent you can keep your kids safe in a number of ways:

Make sure your kids know and feel comfortable enough to share anything that may be troubling them, ensure that they know that they can come to you with something and that they will get into much greater trouble if they try to cover things up.

Let your child have the courage to discuss matters when they need your support even when it will not be looked upon favorably, inculcate in them the belief that your first priority it their safety. For example: Rose tells her mother that she has had a relationship with a boyfriend who is now sending out emails of pictures of their intimate moments to others, she knows she will be grounded or shouted at later but first her mom would set things right for her. Inspiring this kind of confidence is important.

Set times for online interactions. Let your child know that being online for some duration is okay but it is not acceptable to be online at all hours.

 Make sure that you have some secure software installed to ensure that they do not abuse the resources available.

Inform them of how dangerous it is to post provocative images or share personal information online as it is accessible to millions of people and could get misused.

Watch for signs in your child like aggression, fear, anger, moodiness, isolation or any other traits which could indicate she is being targeted.

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