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Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Still waiting for bullying to end by itself?

September 15, 2013

Another make-shift memorial mourns another bullying victim

Another kid pushed to the edge by bullies. Another disheartened sheriff addresses a news conference. “(She) was absolutely terrorized on social media.” Another disbelieving mom tries making sense of life without her little girl. “I never, ever thought it would happen to me or my daughter.”

This tragedy happened in Florida, though it could have been any place. Fitting, since the internet isn’t really any place but, at the same time, it’s every place. This case of peer abuse picked up fuel on ask.fm before it exploded Monday inside a 12 year’s mind, with the thought her life was worthless. Do ask.fm and other social media sites have any responsibility for the vicious behavior of its users? Yes. Because it happened on their turf. Could they do more to make their sites “safer.” Absolutely. Kids haven’t yet learned to manage their destructive emotions. They flip out of control frequently. That’s why adults monitor what goes on during school recess. Someone has to  keep the peace because kids can’t do it themselves. Is it a perfect system? No, but it helps.

Social media is the largest unsupervised playground, yet where are the monitors? If anyone 15 years ago thought that kids online would naturally treat each other with respect, he’s surely woken up by now. We’re all awake now, aren’t we?

Social media sites need human moderation. That won’t completely solve the problem of bullying, but it will help to lessen it. Parents, find out which sites your kids frequent and what level of moderation (if any) those companies use. Bottom line: Your kids should not be on social media sites that don’t have human moderation in real time. Anything less puts your child at an unacceptable level of risk. Take away your business and see if that gets them to clean up their act.

Pressuring social media sites to take responsibility for the well-being of their tween and teen users, is an essential step. We also have to do our part, as parents and teachers. Our children seriously need an education at home and at school.  Kids are so vulnerable to peer approval addiction, their thinking about right and wrong can get totally warped in the moment. Parents, kids, teachers, school administrators, counselors, coaches, youth leaders, mentors, all of us need to do more to reel in the culture of cruelty. Every day in which we react to a tragedy with a make-shift memorial, instead of the daily work of building schools and communities of compassion and respect, is a day we’ve failed our kids.

Filed under: Cruel's Not Cool,Parenting,Pop Culture,Technology,Teens — Tags: , — Annie @ 5:40 pm
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9 Comments »

  1. I’m feeling totally old here but what kind of social media sites are we talking about? Facebook? I’ve heard of chat rooms but am unsure where they are or how you get to them. Again, feeling totally stupid. I believe my kids have no contact with chat rooms though I have a daughter on instagram and I’m on Facebook. Could you educate us on where this is occuring? Thanks.

    Comment by Michele Edelmuth — September 16, 2013 @ 9:56 am

  2. So true. Parents need to be vigilant and unrelenting in convincing adults who operate online sites, schools, churches and anywhere else kids are tormenting each other.
    Too often, parents give up after a token complaint to adults in authority, modeling behavior that might mark their children as targets in the first place. We need to teach children that it’s important to be kind, nice, etc., but we also must teach them how to respect themselves and set limits on behaviors of other kids that can harm them. One without the other can lead to problems that scar children for life.
    Lissa Brown
    Author of Another F-Word (a story about bullying and triumph)
    http://www.lissabrownwrites.com

    Comment by Lissa Brown — September 17, 2013 @ 7:24 am

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  4. Unless it involves big money and corporate interests, the issue seems to get swept under the rug. Our children are our future, but all people seem to care about are themselves in the present.

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  8. [...] and online advisor Annie Fox argues that social-media sites should be pressured to incorporate real-time, real-life moderation. Then, too, she adds, adults—including teachers—need to take a far more active role in [...]

    Pingback by Kids Today: The Social-Media Menace « Spot On Paper — September 28, 2013 @ 11:05 pm

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