Summer is fast approaching, and that means endless fun and freedom for your child. However, with freedom comes a lack of supervision and the potential for trouble. With the absence of school administrators and teachers, and their network of resources, you need to protect your child from cyberbullying. Marianne Noakes, executive director of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Hamilton and Burlington (Canada) says that “The last time we did a thorough examination, we found that 80 percent of our kids had either been bullied or acted as bullies.” So, what can you do as a parent to combat bullying this summer? At My Social Sitter, we have five key steps to help keep your child safe during these warmer months.
Talk to your child about bullies
Whether they’re just playing around the neighborhood this summer, or maybe going away to camp, let them know that bullying of any kind is NOT ok, and they don’t have to tolerate it just to fit in or hang out with the “cool kids”. Let them know that if they feel that another child is picking on them, that they can come to you with any concerns they may have. In addition, always encourage your kids to be compassionate towards everyone, and to not become bullies themselves.
Make a bullying plan
If your child is being bullied, you need to have a plan of action. Have a camp counselor or trusted adult that they can go to in a time of need. Some kids may feel uncomfortable getting their parents involved, and you can’t always be by their side, so pinpoint someone that you two can agree on. They won’t feel like a “tattle tale”, and they will have someone nearby at all times that they can trust. Remind them that there’s nothing wrong with telling on another child if it’s interfering with their happiness.
Know your resources
If you feel like your child is a victim of cyberbullying, call the CyberBully Hotline at 1-800-420-1479 or visit their website at http://www.cyberbullyhotline.com/. If you feel like the bullying of your child has escalated or become more serious, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the government’s bullying-dedicated website at http://www.stopbullying.gov/. Remember: your child’s life and wellbeing are of the utmost importance.
Limit your child’s online use
A great way to limit cyberbullying is to limit the amount of time your child is unsupervised on the internet. Give them a certain amount of hours per day on their phone or computer, and set that as a house rule. You can also monitor your child’s online activities by requiring that they use the computer in visible family areas of the house. This will help to keep them from
Keep them busy
Sometimes, as a parent, there’s only so much you can do to protect your child from the outside world. However, keeping them busy in activities will help keep them out of trouble. Whether its sports, or summer camps, there are so many fun activities to choose from this summer. Dr. Joel Haber, PhD from the American Camp Association points out that camp counselors usually have an anti-bullying procedure put into place, and sometimes they limit phone use to prevent bullying. Haber says, “We need to teach our kids new skills and help them develop positive attitudes and behavior. And my message to the camps themselves is to teach staff ‘inclusiveness,’ and to train counselors to create inclusive bunks.” Keeping your child preoccupied and surrounded by trusted adults will promote better behavior.