My friend shared an article titled ‘Star Wars’ kid breaks silence on cyber bullying’. With increasing consternation, I read about this teen who had been playfully mucking around the TV studio in his Quebec high school one day, wielding a pretend light sabre, imitating a Jedi knight from Star Wars. Something all our Star-War besotted boys do at home every day. But his innocent fun was turned into a matter of global contempt when a friend uploaded a video of this footage without his knowledge, spawning a massive cyberbullying attack.
The poor boy went through a dark phase in his life. Can you imagine the effect of that on a vulnerable teen? The boy lost a few friends in the process and had to change schools.
In the teen’s own words, “No matter how hard I tried to ignore people telling me to commit suicide, I couldn’t help but feel worthless, like my life wasn’t worth living.”
What a terrible experience for any kid, wouldn’t you agree?
There are checks in place that you need to know about, if you already don’t. We will discuss those in a later post. Today, I would like to offer some tips on what to do if a child you know, or maybe you, face such harassment on a social networking site.
Even though you can set privacy and security settings to your video posts, sometimes errors occur and unwanted comments are posted for all to see.
If this happens to your child, block the abuser and report it as an abuse. Ensure the child does not have a phone or laptop handy to go back and check frequently on the mean comments being posted till the video is being pulled off. But the most important thing to do is to comfort the hurt and bewildered child. Give the child a lot of love, confidence and encourage them to hold up their head and face the world. If needed, rope in the school counsellor, teachers, the child’s good friends and their parents and together create a support group for the child.
This is the message I would give to a child who has faced cyberbullying, “You are a wonderful and courageous person. Remember, there are some strange people in this world who get their kicks by demeaning others. Don’t let them succeed by being affected in any way by their words. Ignore them, laugh it off-nothing annoys an abuser more than when the victim refuses to get provoked.”
You may have your own message to give to a victim, perhaps a better one. Why don’t you share it here so that we can discuss how best to counsel a cyberbullying victim?
Finally, consider using McAfee All-In-One or Total Protection on all your internet-enabled gadgets to receive alerts when abuse terms are exchanged when your kids go online. Sometimes, kids suffer silently and don’t want parents to learn about their humiliation. In such cases, the consequences might be worse. So a bit of supervision is necessary in this cyber age.
May all our kids stay safe online and get the best of the cyber world.