Bullying: Hope for Cyber Bullying Victims - Dr. Charles Fay
During National Bullying Prevention Month, Love and Logic will provide real help and hope through our special blog series.
Mom’s concerns have been increasing daily. She has never seen her daughter like this. For the past week it is all she can do to get Mandy to go to school. Now Mom is starting to imagine all sorts of dire situations. “Is she into drugs? Could she be failing one of her classes? Is she having trouble with one of her teachers?” Mom’s mind is going wild trying to figure this out.
All of Mom’s efforts to talk with Mandy have resulted in more frustration as Mandy responds with, “Mom. I told you it’s nothing. I just want to be left alone.”
“Maybe she’s pregnant,” worried Mom. “But I don’t think that could be the problem,” she thought. “She doesn’t seem to have any boys who are interested in her.” Now Mom’s mind is whirling as she sees Mandy’s depression deepen by the day.
Finally Mom had a clue. She heard Mandy crying over the phone as she talked to her best friend. Through wracking sobs Mandy was crying, “I don’t know what I did wrong. Why are they doing that to me? They hate me. I’ve never done anything to them. None of that stuff is true. I just wish I was dead!”
As Mandy came into the kitchen, Mom held Mandy tight. “I know you’re hurting something terrible. This can’t go on like this. You and I are not going anywhere until you tell me what this is all about.”
After a long hard cry Mandy took Mom to her computer. “Look at all of these emails. Look at all these text messages on my cell phone. Why would they want to say all these bad things about me,” she cried.
It was a clear case of cyber bullying. Mandy had been singled out by a group of kids who were systematically rejecting her and destroying her sense of belonging. The computer was filled with the most horrible accusations imaginable about how she looked, dressed, and acted. It was enough to make any parent violently sick.
Mom hugged Mandy and said, “Oh, Mandy. That has to hurt so bad. Who is doing this and why do they do things like that?”
“I don’t know who it is, Mom. But I think it’s some of the popular kids. They are really mean to everybody who is not in their group.”
“Oh, Mandy. What’s happening to you is called cyber bullying. That’s got to make you feel awful. We need to all talk about this and get you some help. I bet there’s a lot of information on the Internet.”
Mandy and her mom found lots of information on the web, and Mandy started to discover that kids who do this are usually insecure, cowardly, and have a lot of personal problems.
Armed with information from some web sites, she and her parents met with the school officials and, as a result, filed information with the police who showed them how to save every email and phone message as evidence. This evidence helped them track down the culprits.
Even with this, Mandy was fearful, frequently complaining, “But what if it happens again? I couldn’t eat, or sleep, or face anybody at school!”
“Now that you know that the kids who do this are hurting and emotionally weak, you can create a new vision that will protect you each time something like this happens,” advised Mom. “You need a mantra that helps you remember that these are kids who only know how to build themselves up by tearing someone else down.”
This wise mom taught Mandy a mantra, “Uh, oh. Another sick and sorry kid.” They practiced this over and over until Mandy could blurt it out with conviction.
A month later Mandy came to her mother saying, “My friend Jill is getting victimized by cyber bullying. I taught her how to use my favorite mantra. Now we both say it and she’s doing ok. It’s sad that some kids feel so bad about themselves that they’d do stuff like that.
Below is a list of Love and Logic resources to give you, as a parent or educator, hope while providing your child the ability to overcome bullying.
Bullying: When Your Child is the Target – Charles Fay, Ph.D.
Tips for Helping Kids Deal with Bullying – Infographic
No Thanks, I Just Had a Banana! – Sally Ogden
Words Will NEVER Hurt Me – Sally Ogden
If they push your button, don’t let it ring your bell! – Sally Ogden