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Internet Bullies:
The Growing Problem of Internet Bullying and Facebook 'Flaming'
    
Often overlooked until recently, the problem of Internet 'bullies' is a very real one, and a very emotional issue for teens.

The truth is, that if your child is online and either chatting or posting (or reading) messages on a Web log, Facebook, or message board, they can become a victim of a 'Cyber Bully.'
Even if your child does not have the ability to send or receive messages directly on the Internet, they may be visiting a site where others (friends, classmates, or complete strangers) may be posting opinions, information, and virtually anything else they wish to online. These messages, however false, thoughtless, or baseless they may be, often take a very real emotional toll on their intended victims. At a time in their lives where their self esteem is already often at risk, teens can be deeply affected by insults, bullying, and 'flaming' on the Internet.

The Internet provides a great deal of anonymity for those wishing to harass, insult, or stalk others. There are numerous 'free' chat and e-mail resources out there (such as Hotmail and Yahoo), where anyone with the ability to type can obtain a false identity, profile, e-mail address, and chat nickname. These accounts can be created and deleted in seconds, allowing people to send or post multiple messages that may appear to be from different sources. With these resources, cyber bullies can bombard their intended victims with unwanted e-mails and messages, insulting them relentlessly, even though the victim may be using the 'ignore' feature of their chat service.

Certain Internet chat providers provide 'Parental Controls', where chat can be restricted to those on a specific list. As a parent, be aware that even if your child is chatting only with a few well known friends, insulting, bullying, and stalking can still occur.


There are programs out there that allow parents to track children's activity on the Internet, all the way down to every website visited, message sent and received, and keystroke on the keyboard.


It is usually best to discuss your monitoring activities or use of software with your child, and let them know you will be periodically checking on their Internet activity.

If you take an honest and open approach with your child, they are all the more likely to be honest in return.
Building trust and communication is the best way to prevent your child from becoming a victim.




Protecting Your Child From 'Cyber Bullies'
  
Be sure to stay involved with your child's online experiences. Occasionally, take the time to sit down with them and have them show you what they are doing.
Talk to your child about Internet friendships. Make sure they realize that a friendship online is no substitute for real-life social interaction with their friends.
Talk to your child about cyberbullying. View and discuss news articles about the topic- discuss how they would deal with a bully online. Ask them if they have ever been a victim, or know someone who has.

Signs your child might be a victim of cyberbullying:
  • Mood changes. Keep an eye on your child's mood. If your child has been depressed, anxious, upset, or angry more, without any apparent specific reason, it could be a result of something happening on the Internet.
  • A sudden decline in grades.
  • A sudden decline in their interest in friendships, social activities, or school activities.
  • Subtle comments about their friends or that could indicate a social conflict.

    What you can do if your child is a victim of a cyber bully:
  • Use the 'ignore' function. If the bullying is coming from one identified person, sometimes this may be the simple solution. The bully may move on to an easier target.
  • Contact your Internet Service Provider and report the abuse. Most chat providers and websites have rules preventing online abuse, and will take action against the offender if notified.
  • Contact the bully's parents. Most cyberbully's parents have no idea of their child's activity.
  • Contact the school. If the cyberbullying is taking place during school hours, on campus, or with school computers, then administrators should become involved, and take action to stop the abuse.
  • Contact the Police. Any obvious criminal activity should immediately be reported to local law enforcement.


    Facebook Anti-Bullying Tips    

  • Friend Request - Accept Requests Only from People That You Know


  • Prevent harassment from strangers or people hiding behind fake names -- just accept friend requests from the people who you know in real life. Facebook requests that you report any profiles or messages that look suspicious to them.

    Facebook Report a Violation form >>>

  • Prevent Specific People from Access Use the Facebook block feature which will prevent specific people from being able to view your profile.
    • Click the account menu at the top right of any Facebook page and choose Privacy Settings.
    • Find the Block Lists section and click Manage Block Lists.
    • Enter the name or email address of the person you want to block and click Block.
      People will not be notified when you block them.
  • Report Abusive Behavior

    You can report abuse in the same place it that it occurs on Facebook.

    If you receive a harassing message in your Inbox from someone who is not your Facebook friend, report it by clicking on the "Report" link next to the sender's name as you are reading the message.

    Facebook Privacy
  • Privacy Settings - Customization

    Set up Facebook's privacy settings so that customize what information you share and who you share it with. From the Privacy Settings page, you can control who views your information, determine who can find you in searches or see your Wall, profile and photos.

    Click the Edit Page button at the top right corner of your Page. For Pages with the new timeline design:
    • Open the admin panel
    • Click on Manage
    • Select Edit Page

    On the Manage Permissions tab you set country and age restrictions which controls who will be able to search for and like your Page.

  • Responding to Abusers


  • Bullies most often are seeking a reaction from the people they harass. If there is no response, they often will give up. Do not respond to a bully via a Wall post, Facebook Chat or Inbox message. Simply remove offensive posts from your Wall or messages from your Inbox. Then use the Block and Report functions to resolve the issue.




    Resources and Information:
    Cyber Bullies, Cyber Stalking, and Internet 'Flaming'    

    Working to Halt Online Abuse
    http://www.haltabuse.org/

    Online safety and help group
    http://wiredsafety.org/index.html

    Online Harassment/Cyberstalking Statistics
    http://www.haltabuse.org/resources/stats/index.shtml

    Online Bully Information
    http://www.netbus.org/online-bully.html

    Resources and Information about Child Abuse, Bullying, and Violence Directed at Children
    http://www.cfchildren.org/strparent.html

    Conflict in Cyberspace: How to Resolve Conflict Online
    http://www.rider.edu/~suler/psycyber/conflict.html.




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