Category: Bullying

How to Foster Empathy for Bullying Prevention

Cyberbullying Guide for Kids

Regrettably, bullying is very common among children. However, that doesn’t make it normal, and parents shouldn’t rely on their children to “grow out of it” as they mature. Why? Because growing out of it is a quick fix, while fostering empathy in your child is a long-term solution.

Emotions, kindness, comforting words, hugs, and feeling others’ pain are all traits associated with empathy. When your child is empathetic, bullying is entirely out of the equation. But the question is how to foster empathy for bullying prevention. Below are a few ideas.

How to Instill Empathy in Children

When your child is authentically empathetic, they’re guided by their empathy in all their actions. They’re able to put themselves in others’ shoes, relate to their feelings, and help others feel better. Here are some ways to teach your little one to be empathetic.

Fulfill Their Needs

Even among grownups, we usually say that when someone bullies us, they feel bad about themselves or are jealous. By that very same token, if your child doesn’t receive the love they need from you, they won’t be able to treat others with love either.

Loving your children extends to include making them feel enough, and that’s the keyword. Avoid comparisons with classmates who receive better grades, sports mates who continuously win the gold medal, and similar situations. This very often triggers bullying behavior.

Encourage Your Child to Speak Up

Kids often have trouble conveying their feelings, especially when they don’t understand exactly how they feel. Always encourage your little one to share their feelings in the best way they can –– be it through art, speaking, a song, or other. Then, you can help them name their feelings.

When they’re connected with their emotions, they’re able to pick up on situations where others feel the same way they did, and they’ll understand how that felt like. If your child doesn’t let out their feelings, it may result in violence, bullying, and tantrums.

Lead by Example

Children are the best copycats. Showing them what empathy looks like is one of the best ways to instill empathy in their behavior. For example, visit your neighbor who lives alone and take them with you. Then, when you’re back, tell them that the neighbor had been feeling lonely and you wanted to give her some company and cook her a good meal.

When you take action and explain it, your child builds up a life guide of situations and behaviors that they use when they need to. You don’t even have to make huge actions; they can be as small as explaining why an actor was crying in a particular movie scene. Also, make sure to hear what your child thinks of the reactions they’re perceiving.

By doing so, not only does your child eliminate bullying from their dictionary, but they’re also better equipped to identify it and stand up to such behavior if it ever happens to them.

Explain to Children How Their Words and Behaviors Impact Others

Sometimes, children simply don’t understand the repercussions of their behaviors. They don’t mean any harm, but their mind doesn’t grasp the impact of their actions. Therefore, always make a habit of talking to your child about what happens to the other person due to their behavior.

Make sure to tackle issues such as spreading rumors, gossiping, being violent, calling others names, leaving some people out, and more. That way, they’ll learn to think before taking action, and they’ll consider how the other person will feel.

It’s also best if your child’s school works on preventing bullying by using a program that promotes an overall positive school climate using age-appropriate lessons. Make sure to check the school’s efforts in that area.

Final Words

Being empathetic is a cornerstone of leading a healthy life. For the longest time, people thought that empathy is equivalent to being nice, but actually, empathy is the bigger umbrella encompassing high levels of emotional intelligence that children can employ to make compassionate decisions and relate to others.

We hope that you now have an idea of how to foster empathy for bullying prevention, and at the end of the day, we all share the same vision of putting a stop to bullying!

Are you a single parent?  Here’s what you can do if you have a child that is being bullied.

Which States Are Doing to Fight Cyberbullying?

Keeping kids safe online while learning

In many ways, the internet is a great learning tool and can be wonderful for connecting children with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, there is also plenty of inappropriate content, and online social networks can give other kids a forum for teasing and bullying.

Currently, there are only a few federal protections to keep minors safe online—the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) being the most prominent.

The good news is, states have the power to rein in bullying and inappropriate interactions that happen in the digital sphere—and several are going above and beyond to keep kids safe online. Here’s a closer look at which states are doing the most to keep their young residents protected while learning on the internet.

States Taking Action

Many states have implemented some combination of laws specifically addressing cyberbullying (at school and otherwise), online harassment, and texting inappropriate content (known as “sexting”). But nine states have doubled down on establishing protections for kids online:

  1. Arkansas
  2. Connecticut
  3. Florida
  4. Georgia
  5. Kansas
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. South Dakota
  8. Texas
  9. Utah

These states have taken clear legislative action against both cyberbullying—bullying, belittling, or harassment that occurs via digital means like social media or texting—and inappropriate texting with minors.

In Arkansas, schools are required to institute and enforce anti-bullying policies. Schools must also offer group conflict resolution services for students and training for teachers to learn how to recognize bullying.

Connecticut is a leader when it comes to cyber-bullying policies and resources for students and teachers. In addition to the laws put in place by Arkansas, Connecticut school districts also have strategies for including parents of both the student who was bullied and the student(s) doing the bullying to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Texas also has a strict policy that covers all these bases, though protections for specific classes aren’t clearly delineated.

The state of Florida includes a process for involving families in cyberbullying situations. It also requires districts to keep a list of programs that can offer training for school staff, parents, and students on how to identify and react to online harassment. Like Texas, specific groups aren’t called out in the laws, but state-funded schools are still held to federal anti-discrimination rules.

While the requirements in Georgia do not include training for school personnel, the state has implemented character education programs for all grade levels and includes off-campus cyberbullying directed toward students or school personnel in their laws and regulations.

Laws in Kansas don’t include off-campus incidents, but they do require training for educators and staff on navigating bullying situations. And Pennsylvania and Utah include everything except offering mental health support for students who have been bullied, even going so far as to require regular policy reviews and to involve families in policy creation, respectively.

South Dakota’s laws focus on responding to bullying as it happens, and while there aren’t plans in place for prevention or family involvement, the state does offer immunity for reporting bullying.

Additionally, all nine of these states have laws that directly address minors sending and receiving inappropriate content via text.

What Can Parents Do?

Regardless of what state you live in, there are some basic precautions you can take to keep kids safe online.

  1. Educate yourself on what dangers are out there and how to identify them.
  2. Figure out where your state stands on online privacy and safety for minors.
  3. Monitor your children when they’re using the internet, keep computers in common rooms, and set up restrictions to keep your kids off message boards, chat rooms, etc. until they’re old enough to engage responsibly.

Last but not least, have a conversation with your children about the importance of being careful with personal information and the potential risks of being online.

What to Do If Your Child Is Being Cyberbullied: a Single Parent’s Guide

CyberBullying: A Word for Parents

cyberbullying guide for parents

There was a time when bullying was something we all had to endure in school, on the bus, and hanging out with friends. It was always unpleasant. The next generation, our children, have an even worse type of bullying to deal with… and it’s so much more common than what we suffered!

About CyberBullying

Remember how frustrating it was in school when somebody was upset and reacted passive aggressively, usually by spreading a rumor? How the victim of a bully (maybe it was you, maybe it was one of your friends) would feel singled out, how hard it was to go to school and deal with the drama.

Your children deal with passive aggressive bullying all the time… because the internet brings out the passive aggressive in almost every young person. From shy kids to the straight forward, outspoken kid… cyberbullying can happen by accident. But as you remember about being the victim of a bully… the wounds never heal.

What’s even worse about cyberbullying is this. When a direct conflict among friends is resolved, you can forget and forgive the hurtful things that were said. However, you can never erase them from the internet.

With that in mind, it’s important to be very sensitive when talking about cyberbullying with your child. And yes, if your kid is using the internet than you do need to talk about this!

Teaching Your Child How To Not Be a CyberBully

As mentioned before, the internet brings out certain behaviors in young folk. Of course, your child knows not to pick on somebody in person, but do they know not to rant and rave on social media when what they say could unintentionally hurt somebody else?  You may discover they are participating in cyberbullying, even if the catalyst for it is succumbing to peer pressure and following the crowd.

Watch for passive aggressive behaviors, and teach your children to face their problems (directly) rather than taking their frustrations out on others.

If your child is 13 or younger, you should have their social media log in info, and don’t share the password with your child. This way, you can easily check in on them and you can also protect your child from being the victim of a “hacker” cyberbully by preventing anyone else from finding out how to log into their account.

Cyberbullying is even more common with older teenagers (age 14-18), especially when they have a smartphone that allows them to post on impulse. Teach them to think before they post, and make sure they understand how important it is to never post anything that could hurt somebody else… or could come back to haunt them.

Bullying and Addiction

Addiction in children has many root causes, including trauma.  It’s not always the case but when studying people who suffer with an addiction, more of those people have some level trauma in their past history or current situation than those who don’t.  Bullying at school or even at home, as well as cyberbullying through social media, can most certainly cause trauma and greatly hinder the emotional well being of a child.  The earlier it happens, the more damage can be done.  Regardless of age, kids are developing mentally and emotional well into their early twenties so a parent should not take lightly the effects a bully can have at any age.

Whether the bullying is physical, verbal or social, a turn to addiction or to any destructive behavior can happen at any time and can be a sign of something going on that the parent is not aware of.  If you notice that something is troubling your child, gently seek answers from them in order to seek solutions.  There is help from those where the major cause of addiction has been a result of bullying.  Even if you only have a vague idea of what may be wrong, seek help from a school counsellor or a professional within your community.

What To Do If Your Child is the Victim of a CyberBully

Be the parent that a child can feel comfortable talking to if they are being harassed or directly attacked online. Be kind and understanding, and be sensitive to their needs. The rest is really up to you, as a parent.

If the harassment is severe enough, you can involve other authorities (the school or the police.) As you may remember, this could backfire on your child so it shouldn’t be your first choice. One needs to evaluate closely determine the immediate and long term effects of the bullying your child is enduring.  If the bullying has started over personal drama, discuss with your child whether or not they should confront the person in real life and come to a resolution. Do not “feed the trolls” or respond to cyberbullying online… bring it back to real world interaction.

To protect your child from becoming the victim of a cyberbully, encourage them to make friends with other children who are kind and respectful. Teach your children that friends who are always “surrounded by drama” can be dangerous… you never know when you’ll get sucked into it!

What can a child or teen do to empower themselves against a cyber bully? Have them read our article on CyberBullying: for Kids and Teens.

Bullying in School and on the Playground

While cyberbullying can be much more invasive by allowing bullies to virtually enter your home and harass your child online, we must not forget about traditional bullying in school hallways, the lunchroom, on the playground.

Whether ‘on’ or offline, parents who know the signs of bullying in their child’s behavior can be proactive no matter what form it takes.

Here are the red flags to look for and what to do with aid your bullied child.

This infographic was created by Kids Car Donations, a local car donation

Common Signs Your Child Might Be Getting Bullied

CyberBullying: A Word for Kids and Teens

Cyberbullying Guide

Cyberbullying is a phrase you may hear all the time, but it takes many different forms and meanings. Bullying is something that many children and teens go through in school, on the bus, and within groups of friends. However, cyberbullying is even more common because most kids don’t even realize they are doing it!

It’s never fun to be bullied, in the real world or on the web through social media. It’s even worse to be the bully, yet it’s easy to be do it online… even by accident. The internet can bring out passive aggressive behavior, even in the most outspoken person.

When you have a problem with somebody, do you face them with it… or do you Facebook it?

Taking drama to the web creates a whole new set of problems. Remember that you can work out a problem with a friend, but you can never erase something that was said or done online. So before you post that rant, stop and think if it can hurt somebody else.

Even if you feel like somebody has been mean or unfair to you, you won’t want to stoop to their level.

You won’t be able to take it back, and you will have more good friends when you show that you can take the high road and treat others with respect.

Are You Being CyberBullied?

Think before you tweet, update your status, post a picture, or put anything on the net. Remember that anybody can save and share your updates, so it’s a good idea to avoid posting anything impulsively. It might come back to haunt you. That general rule of thumb is especially important to follow when somebody is attacking or bullying you online.

Sometimes you have to start by asking why somebody is trying to hurt you.

  • If it is a friend who is upset with you, perhaps you did something to hurt them? The best response would be to take your drama offline and try to talk it out—in the real world or on a smart phone. Eliminate the audience and it will be just the two of you, looking for a resolution to end the drama.
  • If there is a group of people you don’t know that well who are “ganging up on you”, they may be the friends of somebody who is upset with you. There could be rumors or numerous direct attacks. Do not respond to any kind of attack coming from somebody you do not know. If you know who the original source is, deal with them directly.

Knowing why does not always put an end to cyberbullying, but neither does “feeding the trolls”. You don’t want to just ignore cyberbullying and wait for it to go away either. So if the harassment is taking on a level that is really troubling you, please tell your parents or somebody in your school.

Steps to Protect Yourself From CyberBullying

  1. Face your problems. Never “Facebook” your problems.
  2. Think before you post.
  3. Always be kind and respectful, and surround yourself with friends who are also kind and respectful.
  4. Be careful around people your age who are always ‘surrounded by drama’. You never know when you’ll get sucked into it!
  5. Never, ever let anybody know your password. Protect your social media accounts from being “hacked” by changing your password every so often. If you use a smart phone never leave it unattended.

What Can You Do if You are Being CyberBullied

  1. Don’t respond to messages and never retaliate. It will only ad fuel to the fire and escalate the cyberbullying.
  2. Tell an adult you trust, such as a parent, teacher or coach. If they don’t offer you any real solutions, then search for a trusted adult who is better equipped to offer advice, such as a school councilor.
  3. Save all evidence. Do not delete any communications. Be sure to keep electronic copies and print-outs in case things escalate. This will empower you to allow justice to be served against the cyberbully.
  4. Keep records of ISP and law enforcement contacts. If the cyberbully continues to harass you, contact their Internet Service Provider (ISP).
  5. Save all information that contains even a hint of a threat and contact law enforcement.
  6. Block the harasser after you have made copies of all communication.

CyberBullying Resources:

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