My heart ached as I read the story of Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old cheerleader who ended her life after years of torment on Facebook. My prayers remain with her family still today. This young girl was the focus of an ordeal that began with stalking, unspeakable online torture and downright evil acts that eventually erupted into physical violence from her peers, throwing her into a downward spiral, ending with her tragic suicide last Wednesday. And while the events surrounding Amanda Todd and her taking her own life are heartbreaking, when it comes to cyber-bullying, for the sake of those left behind, I have to ask: Who is really to blame?
Monitoring the Net
Having raised two teenagers, I am well aware that they utilize technology in every area of their lives. I believe that with this awareness, comes an added responsibility for me to monitor what they do, what they say and who they converse with online. Indeed, I believe that it’s my job as their mom to be on their Facebook pages, to have their passwords and to be able to audit their online and texting activity at any given moment. Because I have done this, I have been able to head off many negative situations at the pass. I can’t help but think that if more parents were proactive when it came to their teenagers internet activity that cyber bullying and cases like Amanda Todd’s would quickly become a distant memory.
Where Are the Parents?
I have seen profile photos of underage kids chugging tequila, smoking weed, flashing their breasts and even photos young girls over-sexualizing themselves while talking to men at least twice their age. I see countless teens crying out for help in different ways. I see some taking to being mean as a coping mechanism, others being overly dramatic, and still more using Facebook as a verbal vomiting ground, yet I see no parental intervention. Have parents today become apathetic, or are they too busy being their child’s friend, and ultimately foregoing the commitment they have to be a parent first?
It’s a Difficult Conversation, But…
It’s great to hold up a sign that says you are against bullying, it’s sweet to buy a bullying prevention bracelet, and antibullying petitions circulate around the net nearly as much as political cartoons do. Yet, no matter how many signs you make, internet petitions you sign or bracelets you buy, the problem isn’t getting solved. In fact, it seems as though it’s getting worse. Bullying, cyber or not, starts and ends at home, and it starts and ends with parents like me who believe that policing their kids in this era of open communication, where online acts are immortalized, that being a parent trumps being a friend, and is far better than being apathetic. It seems to me that to maintain the idea that your kid would never do “that” or that “it will never happen to your kid” is an antiquated notion that needs to be stamped out if cyber-bullying is ever to follow. The cost not to is just too high.
What do you think? Who is really to blame for cyberbullying with kids?
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