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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Cyber Bullying and Our Teenagers - Growing Up Digital

This is a simple, yet profoundly needed message in today's society. I'm talking about cyber bullying. I'm dealing with this myself, as we speak. Kids can be mean. Cruel, even. They claw their way to the center of their social circle, at the expense of someone else's feelings. It's hard, as parents, to know ALL of our kids friends (or enemies) and ALL that's going on in their little lives. But, friends, it's SO important to be all up in their business!!! ALL. UP. IN. IT!

I've gone to bat for my kids, when I feared for their safety, a few times. I don't bother to get involved in their silly arguments, I do want them to learn how to deal with some stuff on their own. But, you better believe, as soon as some mouthy kid starts telling my kid what they're going to "do" to them, I intervene. I've seen it more times than I ever should have in the last few years.

Growing up, I didn't have social media. I didn't have a computer. I didn't even get a cell phone until I turned 18 and bought it myself. There weren't mean kids hiding behind their devices calling me ugly names. If someone wanted to bully me, they would either talk about me behind my back, prank call my house, or follow me home from the bus stop. All of which happened to me. Because kids are mean. But, those opportunities weren't as prevalent as the opportunities that our children are facing in today's very digital social society.

Something else that comes to mind when speaking about bullying, or cyber bullying, is our kids fear of "snitching." Another reason to be all up in their business is they will likely NOT TELL YOU what's going on, in fear of being a snitch. I've heard it come out of my boys mouths numerous times over the years, something I didn't hear as a kid, "snitches get stitches." What? I get it. The mouthy kid doesn't want to get in trouble for his ugly, mean-hearted attitude. But, kids being fearful to speak up? No, ma'am.

I'm not telling you to be your kids best friend. We all know better than that. But, be their advocate. Have a presence and relationship with their school and its administrators. Stand up for them. Fight for their right to feel safe in school (and out of school). Love them unconditionally. Do NOT tolerate bullying!

Have you dealt with bullying or cyber bullying with your children? What school grade(s) were they in? How did you handle it? I'm genuinely curious. After all, I still have many years of parenting school-aged kids ahead of me.

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