There have always been bullies since time began. Generally speaking I associate bullying with my own experiences as a kid at school – in those (now far-off) days, bullying tended toward physical intimidation, although there was occasionally a psychological element as well.
The point is that one tends to give advice based on one's own experiences. When I was a kid, we didn't have devices like cell phones, computers, and the Internet, so it really hadn't struck me that a new form of bullying has arrived ... "Cyber Bullying" ... so I never thought to talk to my stepson about this.
I know this sounds a bit weird when you first hear the term, but the Stop Cyber Bullying website at www.StopCyberBullying.org is a real eye-opener. Although the introduction is a little tedious and long-winded, it's well-worth spending the time to watch the whole thing.
Imagine a kid receiving an anonymous text message saying something like: "I hate you and everyone else at school hates you too," for example. Or imagine some kids setting up a website showing: "The five fattest ugliest kids at our school" with pictures of each kid and instructions to vote to determine the fattest ugliest kids. Suppose you were one of the targets . . . the impact on your self-esteem could be devastating.
In addition to providing information for parents, the site has sections for "kids" (7 to 10), "tweens" (11 to 13), and "teens" (14 to 17). Of particular interest is a test titled: Are you a cyberbully? This test starts off by saying:
Often, people who are victims are also bullies. Before you feel too bad for yourself, take the quiz below to find if you, too, are part of the cyberbullying problem!
This is followed by a series of questions along the lines of "Have you ever ...?" For each item, the kids give themselves 0 points if they've never done this particular thing, 1 point if they have done it 1 or 2 times, 2 points if they have done it 3-5 times, and 3 points if they have done it more than 5 times. At the end, they add up all the points to see if they are A Cyber Saint, Cyber Risky, A Cyber Sinner, or A Cyber Bully.
This is pretty clever, because a lot of kids will be doing some of these things without really considering the implications. Hopefully, perusing this site with their parents and taking this test will nip some of them "in the bud" before they find themselves in deep waters.
For myself, Cyber Bullying is simply something I had never considered before, but now that I'm aware of it, this site will give me the opportunity to open a dialog with my 12-year-old stepson to make sure everything is as it should be with him and his friends.
Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me – Clive "Max" Maxfield – at firstname.lastname@example.org). And, of course, if you haven't already done so, don't forget to Sign Up for our weekly Programmable Logic DesignLine Newsletter.