As long as there have been kids there have been bullies. You probably know what being bullied feels like, having likely experienced it on your journey to adulthood. However, the nature of bullying has changed. It is nothing like it used to be. It is far worse, and it's important for parents to understand why. Here's how bullying has changed:
- Today, bullying can take place around the clock through the use of technology.
- Today, bullying is rarely an incident between the bully and the victim only. Through technology, a bully's threats, lies, and put-downs can be broadcast online and passed along to everyone and anyone. There is no safe haven from a bully. It can be relentless.
- Today, bullying is more difficult to stop. When a bully sends a threatening or demeaning post, others often redistribute the post that extends its reach. It's impossible to completely delete these posts from cyberspace. As a result, victims of bullying live in fear, not knowing when the next incidence will take place or who will see these posts.
- Today, the stakes are much higher for the bullied. It's not unusual for victims to experience isolation, depression, or even to commit suicide. Just check recent news headlines.
- Today, the stakes are higher for bullies. Because of the widespread (and sometimes tragic) damage bullying can inflict, it is not unusual for bullies to be criminally prosecuted for their bullying behaviors.
- Today, the stakes are higher for parents. For parents of bullies, prosecutors may look for circumstances to pin criminal responsibility for the bully's behavior on her or his parents. For parents of bullying victims, the havoc that can be wreaked upon the family can be devastating, especially for those who have lost a child due to suicide.
Because the nature of bullying has changed, today's parents should always take seriously any incidence where their child reports being bullied. The stakes today are simply too high to ignore bullying or to assume that your child will work it out on her or his own. Listen, keep written records, remain calm, deal proactively to pursue resolution, and provide follow up. Your child's life might depend upon it.