Today, on my birthday, I want to talk about something I’m particularly passionate about–something my Mom taught me how to combat tens of years ago: bullying. I spoke with Andrea Peyser at the New York Post about bullying and its effects over the weekend.
Thirty-three percent of kids say they have been a victim of Cyber Bullying in one way or another. Of these, nearly half don’t tell anyone in their off-screen lives about the abuses. It is important that kids understand that Cyber Bullying is just as upsetting as being bullied in real life and it’s just as important to seek help if they’ve fallen prey to that behavior. I first learned about this at the age of 7 when girls in school tried to push me down the stairs. My mom taught me about the value of extending an olive branch and forgiveness. These kinds of experiences with bullying and cyber bullying can be irreparable to an adolescent’s self esteem. At adolescence, you are trying to form your own identity and peers can be more important than family. We need to teach children empathy. That is why I am an advocate of preventative orientations in colleges, high schools,and grammar schools. We need to teach kids not to be cruel from the beginning. Put them in the shoes of someone they might be criticizing or gossiping about. With kids communicating electronically, reactions to comments are not seen. Therefore, a child may not develop healthy communication skills. This is where the parent comes in.
There is a more than 50 percent chance that parents don’t know what is going on in their children’s online lives—yet more than half of the kids recognized that cyber bullying is as bad or worse than bullying in real life. Cyber Bullying also remains a problem for many teens, a quarter of whom say they would not know what to do if they were bullied online. Cyber Bullying is more serious than person-to-person taunting. The threats can be more vicious, and there is more shame involved. Because more people are exposed, Cyber Bullying leads to humiliation on a global level, leaving the victim feeling attacked and vulnerable. Kids can be exceedingly cruel. We need peer acceptance. Nobody likes to be humiliated and be made a spectacle. Schools need to take more of a stance on this and something should be done. It’s unacceptable that somebody treats somebody differently to make themselves feel better.