Note to Parents:
We ask that you remind your student about safe and proper driving.
This helpful tip is about students in the Cyber World and how to protect them while they are online via Facebook, My Space, surfing the web, or texting on their mobile phone. We will discuss Cyber Bullying, Cyber Predator, and give you some pointers on how to keep track while they are online.
Cyber Bullying has increased within the past several years. It has become such a big problem that the government is attempting to put a new bill in for stricter penalties for bullying. This bill will not only affect the way the schools deal with bullying but also gives the parents a tool to better protect their students.
Bullied or a Bully?
If you suspect that your student is being bullied, here are some signs to look for:
- Fear of going to school
- Feeling nervous and unsafe
- Going and coming from school with torn or dirty clothes
- Unexplained bruises
- Loss of possession/money
- Low self-esteem
- Isolation and decline in attendance
- Threatened or attempted suicide
Note: These signs are not 100% but will give you an indication that there may be something wrong and that you may need to monitor.
Bullying is the act of intimidating a “weaker” person, in attempts to taking their “power”. How to identify a bully:
- Many associate with popular groups
- Associate with other bullies and share the same victims
- They tend to have an elevated high self-esteem
- Very aggressive towards others who may seem “weaker”
- Hot-tempered, easily agitated
- Tease and ridicule others
- Might have his followers do the bullying for him
- Might not bully kids in front of adults
- Some bullies, at some point in their lives had been bullied themselves.
- They tend to bully—physically, emotionally, verbally, and through Cyber-Bullying
Note: Again, these are not 100% but will give you an indication that you may have to observe your students activities a bit closer.
If bullied, here are questions you need find out:
- Who is the bully?
- How many are involved with the bullying?
- Where is the bullying taking place; school, home, streets, or Cyber Bullying?
- Identify the type of bullying, is it; physical, emotional, or verbal?
- How long has the bullying been going on?
- Are others being bullied by the same bully?
- Any witnesses?
- Does the school know about it?
- What can be done to stop it?
- How can we “fix” the damage has been done by the bully?
Note:As a parent you will need to get people involved with the process. If this is something that is happening at school and/or to prevent it from happening at school it is important to inform school officials. You may need the assistance of a family counselor to assist with the emotional and psychological scarring.
If a bully, here is information you need to know:
- Know who your student is bullying.
- Know how long the bullying has been going on and if there are any other victims.
- Know if your student is the only one involved with the bullying. If others are involved, contact their parents.
- Know where the bullying is taking place; school, home, streets, or Cyber Bullying
- Know the type of bullying; physical, emotional, or verbal.
- Know if the school has knowledge of it and report it if they don’t (for the safety of the victim).
- Know that your student may need some form of counseling.
- Know that the bullying needs to be stopped.
- Know that the consequences for your student’s actions could be considerable. Legal action may be taken by victim and their parents.
- Know that you as a parent will need to monitor your student’s activity closer.
Note: Being involved with the process to have the bullying stopped is not the only thing you as a parent should be involved with but with the healing process for the victim and their family. Stopping the bullying should be the priority but also keeping it from starting again with the same victim or other victims.
According to experts, 1 in 5 kids have been a victim of a Cyber Predator. They are very proficient in computers and use programs that mask their location, making it very difficult for law enforcement to locate. The tool that predators like to use is to lure kids out from their homes/safe environments. The predator can become whatever they want and are able to manipulate students to do things that they normally would not do.
Types of Cyber Predators:
- Chatter—is a predator that is more into communicating with students online. They may seem harmless but will eventually have sexual conversations and/or send graphic images. They may or may not be a “Collector” or “Traveler” but the possibility is still there.
- Traveler—is a predator that’s main goal is it to meet student for physical contact. Locations can vary but the possibility of meeting them in the student’s home is high.
- Collector—is a predator who collects child pornography. They may not necessarily make child porn but will collect them. Some trade with other collectors and some may get them from the students themselves through the web.
- Manufacturer—is a predator who will create child pornography either through coercion, bribery, or force. They will create videos, digital images, and printed images. Manufacturers are also Collectors.
What to look for in your student’s accounts:
- Know who is on their “friends” list. Many students will accept people without knowing them.
- Meet their friends. That way you know who they are.
- Review their conversations, especially those who are asking them to meet.
- Set limits for computer time.
- Know where your student is at all times. If visiting friends, have them give you their friend’s home phone number.
- Call your student if they will be out for long periods of time to ensure things are going well.
Note: Know that there is a possibility of your student being a victim of a Cyber Predator. The more you know about your student’s activities and the more you speak with your student about these dangers the better prepared you will be.
What you should know about your student’s web accounts:
- Know what accounts your student has.
- Know the password for these accounts.
- Know that your student is a different person when parents are not around.
- Know who their friends are online friends and everyday friends.
- Know that your student could be bullied.
- Know that your student could be a bully.
- Know that a student could be communicating with a Cyber Predator and not know it.
- Know that your student may or may not want to share personal information with you.
- Know that your student will be upset with you when you check their accounts.
- Know that they may create different accounts.
Rights as a Parent:
- You have the right to check into their accounts on a regular basis and should.
- You have the right to cancel their accounts if they misuse it.
- You have the right to ask questions about their accounts and activities.
- You have the right to talk to them about everyday issues.
- You have the right to “Be a Parent.”
- Always know where your students are at all times.
- Always know with whom your students are with, online, or on the streets.
- Set schedules of when your student can be on the computer.
- Set curfews and be firm with the set times.
- Have consequences when curfews/rules are not met.
Cell phones are becoming more like mini computers. You can surf the internet, get on Facebook, or even send emails. This is another device that you should monitor. Schools have Facebook and other similar sites blocked, but students have the capability to get onto those sites through their cell phones (those that have a data plan).
There is computer software out there that can help you monitor your student’s online activities. Anti-Virus Software such as Norton or Symantec have some form of Parental Control Programs that send you reports of the sites of where your student has visited. Programs like Net Nanny are not only a good tool for parents to use to monitor their student’s computers activities but to help monitor mobile phones, Net Nanny Mobile.
Note: Contact your internet provider or computer tech for other options.
Communication is essential in establishing a positive parent-student relationship. The more you sit down and speak to your student about such dangerous issues and letting them know that they can come to you for advice and help or just to listen, the more likely that they will be willing to do so.
There is no 100% way to safeguard your students but educating them in the dangers and being there as a parent, will assist you in keeping your student as safe as possible. Parenting is hard and there is not easy solution to raising students but the more you involve yourself in your student’s activities the more likely they will be safe. There will be times that your students will be mad at you for being a “parent” and not a “friend” but the alternatives are much worse.