We have covered cyberbullying quite a bit on ChurchMag. It is a growing problem that ministers, youth leaders and parents need to know about. Because technology is so new, it can be easy to miss or overlook new problems that arise from it. While the act of bullying is an aged concept, needing to be mindful of it occurring online is not.
In a recent post on CatholicTechTalk.com, Brad West shares a very personal cyberbullying experience, with one exception that sets him apart from your usual cyberbully victim.
Brad is an adult.
It was a typical “grown-up” conflict. Something about the neighborhood, one thing leads to another, and Brad found his name all over a Facebook Page with false claims and accusations. He even received a threatening private message!
Everything was resolved (the bullies got their way) and Brad took a moment to reflect on it all. He had numerous feelings:
- Very alone
All these feelings weighed on him, but then…
“Then it dawned on me that these are the same emotions kids are experiencing. I’m an adult and it was difficult for me to handle. I can understand better now the severity especially because these kids must almost go and face their peers that do this to them daily.”
Heavy. This was hard for a grown adult to deal with; can you imagine how kids feel?
Brad identifies three keys to helping kids avoid and deal with cyberbullying:
1. Just because kids know technology, does not mean they are responsible to use it. Moreover, if you do not know how to use technology, do not allow your children to use it.
I love what he says here:
“This is where we as Church communities can really step up. We have knowledgeable people in our communities that can volunteer and teach basic courses for both kids and parents.”
3. Reporting and supporting. If you recall, one of the key things Brad experienced was the feeling of being alone. There is a lot of power in knowing there are people standing with you and you can go to for help!
Finally, he concludes with this:
“The online world is NOT different from the offline world. Behavior should not be different. Education and attitude are the two keys to truly addressing this issue in my opinion.”
It is easy to shrug stuff of with: “kids will be kids” and “I was bullied once.” These are not the way to response to cyberbullying. I am grateful that Brad shared his story. His attitude and observations backs-up his own conclusion on how to address cyberbullying.