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A Thick Skin: Preparing Your Child for 21st Century Bullying

PHOTO: More than half of teens surveyed for the Pew Research Internet Project said they'd observed instances of cyber-bullying. Photo courtesy www.bullyingeducation.org.
PHOTO: More than half of teens surveyed for the Pew Research Internet Project said they'd observed instances of cyber-bullying. Photo courtesy www.bullyingeducation.org.
August 18, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Bullying is no longer a behavior that happens mostly on the playground or the school bus. Social media is providing online channels for negative interactions between children, with more than half of teens reporting they have witnessed online bullying.

Experts like Peggy Caruso, a life coach and author of the book Revolutionizing Your Child’s Life, says the best way an adult can help their child is to be aware of the potential sources of bullying.

"The biggest thing is understanding the types of bullying and the signs that you look for," Caruso says.

Those signs include a child who seems withdrawn, lacks the desire to interact with others, or exhibits extreme changes in behavior. Florida law prohibits bullying, and specifically prohibits the use of technology to inflict psychological distress.

In addition to increased technology providing outlets for bullies, Caruso says it has also decreased traditional communication between children, like talking and face-to-face problem solving.

"One of the issues with technology and social media is the loss of communication," says Caruso. "So, I also teach them how to mastermind together, brainstorm with other children, and just try to bring back some things that are lost."

To deter negative online interactions, she says advise your child to resist the temptation to respond to the bully, don't retaliate, save any evidence and use online privacy tools and settings to block the bully.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - FL