In the nineties, bullying seemed insignificant at least for social bullying. Even if I fought it out in school, I was the only parent who complained. My daughter continues to add “The sad part is that guidance counselors, teachers, and even some parents don’t think much of bullying. They pass it off as play, or maybe an early life lesson: the world can be a terrible place filled with people who will treat you with undeserved cruelty.”
Programs to help reduce bullying start with a comprehensive approach that involve a collaboration between students, parents, the school and the community. Positive change will result when all parties concerned become involved stakeholders and take personal responsibility for standing up , voicing out and eliminating bullying.
Everyone from the parents, educators, the students and community should stand up and voice out that bullying should stop. Domestic violence should stop. Preventing and stopping bullying involves a commitment to creating a safe environment where children can thrive, socially and academically, without being afraid.
Creating a Safe Environment for Young Minds
Three years ago, Malayan High School for Science invited me to talk about “Creating a safe environment for Young minds” particularly on cyber-bullying. It was also the Unveiling, Launching, and Signing of the MHSS Safe School Program.
I laud the school’s effort in creating a safe environment for young minds. The school, the students and parents are all part of the solution . I wish I were still a parent with school children. I would have enrolled my children there. I know I would be able to work hand in hand with my kids and the school. In the nineties, I was helpless because the school did not want to cooperate with me. Even if I coached my kid at home , my efforts did not bear fruit.
I am impressed that MHSS provides a safe learning environment for students and that they consider this a top priority of every school. With a safe environment, students will be motivated to take up new challenges, and to remain focused in learning.
The proactive approach to preventing cyber bullying
Children should always remember that safety is their number one concern. They need to know that telling is not tattling. Students should know it is safe to inform trusted adults about what is really going on and also teach adults about new technologies that kids are using to bully. The more senior students can serve as mentors and inform younger students about safe practices on social media. I presented a video on cyber bullying awareness with catchy lyrics from Taylor Swift’s song entitled “Mean”.
I also shared Sonnie Santos’ tips on a proactive preventive approach to cyber bullying and how to protect oneself online.
During my days as internet safety head in the mid-nineties, I helped kids around the world as they built the content of their online journal or websites. One of these kids is now 28 years old. I met him when he was only 12 years old. So I asked him what he thought of cyber bullying. He provides valuable input.
The web is making the world much smaller, in ways that we don’t quite yet understand. With this smaller community we also have a great responsibility with how we treat one another. People, especially kids and teenagers, have to understand that everything we put on the Internet can be saved and it can come back to haunt us. Any job or graduate school recruiter has the obligation now, to Google your name before they think about offering you an interview or offer.If you have a friend who is cyber bullying someone, you have the responsibility to tell that friend to stop, not only because it is wrong, but also because it will cause harm to that person’s digital presence in the future.
For the people who are the recipients of that bullying, I would say the same thing. Expect everything put online to stay online, forever. If someone is cyber bullying you, document document document – through screenshots or whatever means you have available. That person must stop and apologize, because whatever he or she is doing will affect them later if they do not manage their digital presence.
One may get rid of school bullying once they graduate from high school but the online bullying can persist and move on to cyber harassment later on. It is important to take this proactive stand and prevent from being a victim.
I hope the students become more proactive with their safety and be part of the solution. Make a stand to stop bullying in any form. With the help of their school and their parents, I hope the students create a positive environment for themselves, their peers at school and on social media.