A Strong Family can Defeat Identity Theft and CyberBullying
Online-based harassment or cyber bullying has been silently exploding. Recent news reports pointed to troubling cases of virtual youngsters’ quarrel, in which a person or a group would gang up on a target. The ‘hate subject’ is then pelted with demeaning insinuations like sexual labels or racial slurs. The platform of choice, the exploding social media, is highly potent because it lends anonymity and impunity, experts said. In this turf, perpetrators can do as they please with little fear of being caught or prosecuted.
Yet while earlier incidents of bullying went unnoticed or brushed aside by many parents as a mere adolescent phase, it finally attracted the attention it deserves plus wide media coverage in 2006. A 13-year-old girl killed herself, apparently driven to suicide by a young boy’s online taunting using social media bullying. The culprit, according to Fox News, turned out to be a scorned mother who was meaning to teach the young kid a lesson. She was convinced that the bullied teenager was spreading lies about her daughter and she thought of cruel harassment as a fitting retaliation for the alleged rumor-monger.
The case emphasized to so many prompted the question what is bullying? – that it can bring harm or even death. Both parties, the victim and the offender, are affected, experts said, adding that in the aftermath of the bullying episode, psychological scars will linger for quite some time.
And the situation is compounded by the reality that parents do not know how to address the problem. In a report by the New York Times, one juvenile expert bemoaned: “I’m not seeing signs that parents are getting more savvy with technology.” Essentially, that is saying that parents, supposedly the best person that kids can run to, are helpless because they don’t know how the system operates.
But the good news is, parents can actually keep pace with the development and help their child before the torments deteriorate. The key in combating cyberbullying is to know how and why it happens, meaning getting a good grasp of the facts about cyber bullying. Better yet, getting timely clues about the matter will likely prevent the onset of more tragic events. And doing that, as you will read below, is not too difficult.
Keep the communication lines open
Encouraging youngsters to open up is not an easy task but engaging them is a good start. By assuming the role of a parent and a friend, you can gain a foothold and gather clues about their exclusive circles. By doing this, you can possibly read the signs of a brewing problem.
Keep in mind that bullying can get started by identity theft thorough email scams. It could be that someone ‘phished out’ the personal information of your child to use that counterfeit identity for evil purposes. In this case, it is to damage his or her reputation or to assault other targets and then pin the blame on the victim of ID theft.
Take up computer and social media skills
In order to keep tabs with ‘the other world’ of your child, you need to upgrade your computer and online skills. You do not need to become an expert. Just learn the ropes on basic PC operations and understand how the machine is being used to hook up with a network of friends. These are the concerns that likely dominate your kids’ world. With the correct knowledge, you’ll be able to poke around in their activities without becoming nosy and annoying, if and when the situation calls for it.
Look for signs of behavior shifts
Secretive, withdrawn and aloofness should ring the alarm bells when otherwise your child used to be a sweet, soft and an open little thing. To deal with this, experts recommend constant engagement while gently defining your role as the parent, which declares you have the last say in the house. If needed, impose disciplinary measures while assuring that you only wish to prevent harm from happening.
Know how the social media bullying unfolds
Unlike attempts to pilfer personal data for financial gains, robbing someone’s identity to use it for hurtful purposes is a tad simpler. Forgers will only need to gather images and information, which are readily obtainable, to concoct a fake account that will serve as their platform for spreading falsehoods. There is no sophistication required because the target audience tends to easily accept the peddled lies. That’s how easy the fraud happens.
Steer your child into a serious chat
Once you cracked the nut that is nudging your child to freely discuss cyber bullying whatever his or her role is, talk about the issue point-blank. Hear out the other side with sincerity and make your case too, trying to foster the idea that bullying in any form brings serious and unsavory consequences.
Face the music
The New York Times’ report on rising cases of digital bullying took a close look at its ramifications, specifically the difficulties that parties involved will have to deal with. One mother of a victim was first asked by police investigators if she’s willing to go all out once the probe starts in full swing. She was warned that further digs will probably lead to persons that were not exactly strangers and they may not cooperate with authorities as previous cases had established.
Given the implications, unwelcome as they may be, experts strongly advise to report bullying. Looking away will only encourage cyber bullying to continue flourishing while stamping it out, one case at a time, will likely save lives from being miserable or being snuffed out eventually.
Grab the momentum gained and build on it
Continue the healthy dialogue with your kids about bullying. Give your ear and your say about the issue, which experts said should convince their young minds that you are dead-serious in doing your share to stop bullies from harming them. The likelihood is, the next time a bully attempts to unleash mindless attacks, they’ll immediately turn to you for succor.
You’ll never realize the gravity of cyber bullying until it comes knocking closer to home. Technology spawned the negative phenomenon and in many ways, technology will also equip you to fight it off. But more importantly, your vigilance as a parent will protect your children from harm through more active participation and supervision of their online activities.
Notwithstanding its deadly potentials, bullying will find it hard to inflict harm on targets with a strong family support system, from which kids would come out able to defend against harassment and know who to call when the going gets tough.