Yesterday we ended the first month of the year 2011 and as we continue to look over our collective shoulders we note how fast 2010 seemed to pass and 2011 isn’t moving any slower. For many of us in the United States, we remember 2010 as the year we may have dodged the economic bullet. All around us the economy was going sideways, our neighbors were losing their jobs, family budgets were being adjusted and tested and the stress level in many homes had reached critical mass. And as bad as the description sounds, there are those who had it much worse.
You see in 2010, by my count, 30 children ranging in age from 9-19 took their own lives as they were unable to cope with the bullying which they were being subjected. These families who lost their child will remember 2010 in a much different light than the rest of us. As I said in my piece, Bullycide – the end result of cyber bullying, “We need to educate the young of our society that taunting and sharing another’s private matters in a public manner is simply wrong. We need to also use the Internet responsibly and not as a weapon to torment and harass another. If we collectively don’t step up and address this issue, I fear we will see many more of our young taking their lives and cheating themselves and society out of all of their potential.
Today’s child is trying to find their way through a totally wired society. Therefore, unlike just 15 years ago, it is possible for today’s child to be always on, always in touch, always receiving, always sending, always susceptible to the cuts and slashes on a 24/ 7/ 365 basis.
So allow me to call you the parent to action:
• Encourage your children to accept who they are, and be all they can be with the capabilities given to them.
• Direct our young on appropriate use of the Internet as a tool of collaboration, knowledge sharing and commerce, and not as a tool of hate.
• Make it your business to know and understand the many ways in which your child is engaging online and communicating – Smartphone, laptop, Xbox or wii and where: your house, your neighbors, the library, etc. Then monitor this activity. I’ve often said, it is not espionage to know who and what your child is being exposed to online or via any other communications medium.
• Teach your young how to cope when overwhelmed.
• Ensure your child understands mistakes are universal, and unless it stops the sun from rising in the morn, you and they can work through the error.
• Show your child how to report and confront bullying and call it out as wrong. Show them how to do this in a non-confrontational, but direct manner. To be a silent witness is to endorse the action.
I asked the question, “How many are too many?” I think we can universally agree, one is too many and 30 deaths to bullycide is simply tragic.
Thank you for your time,