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Cyber and text bullying, understand it and stop it

All parents worry that their child may be bullied at school, imagining unpleasant scenarios such as their child being called names, or being pushed around, being physically hurt; the imagination can go into overdrive, when you worry about children. Physical bullying is not the only way that teenagers make each other's lives miserable, verbal bullying can often be more painful; physical wounds heal, but the damage done by destroying a teens' self esteem can be far more long lasting.

Cyber and text bullying are the high tech ways to be mean and unkind to people; not a great advert for advances in technology! The teenager who is being bullied by text will have at some time exchanged telephone numbers with somebody they believed to be a friend. This adds to the misery; knowing that someone has betrayed their trust and passed their number over to a bully.

Sometimes the collapse of a friendship is accompanied by cruel accusations exchanged by text. Teenagers are casual about handing out their telephone numbers, not seeing the potential dangers. Other teens may get involved, passing on "chain texts disrespecting someone, multiplying the bullying. Teenagers frequently keep quiet about text bullying, feeling partly to blame for having allowed someone to use their phone number. Parents may notice the teens' reluctance to answer their phone, or the phone seems to have disappeared!

The simplest solution to text bullying is to get a new number, but if parents want to identify the culprit, hand the problem over to the service provider. Parents will wonder why the teen does not simply delete the texts, or ignore them, but bullying is pervasive; much as they do not want to read the comments, many teens seem unable not to, like worrying at a sore tooth, they have to know what is being said about them!

The same compulsion applies to cyber bullying via messenger and social networking services. Here, to get rid of the nastiness being sent by instant messenger, the teen may have to change their e mail address and delete the account. Social network sites will monitor unpleasantness being posted and the culprit will lose their account, as long as it is reported.

Parents, who find out their teen is being bullied in this way, need to wipe the slate clean for their teen, delete all these accounts, start afresh and only give the addresses to trusted friends and family. A radical alternative could be, do not use social network sites, but few teens may be able to adhere to this. However, teaching them to set privacy controls, and never give their number to casual acquaintances would be a good start!

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