I remember looking forward to Thanksgiving every year when I was a kid because it meant a break from the constant bullying at school. I couldn’t necessarily escape the loneliness over the Thanksgiving holiday, but at least I could escape the ridicule, abuse and relentless teasing from classmates.
Unfortunately today, the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace don’t give kids an escape. People always ask me if bullying is any worse today than it was thirty years ago. My answer is that it’s always the same. Bullying itself isn’t any worse because the impulse for cruelty is no different now than in generations past. What is different is the weaponry. Thirty years ago students could start nasty rumors about classmates by jotting down a note and passing it around class. And that would be the end of it. But now, that same rumor could be posted on Facebook walls, blasted via email or shared across instant messaging, among other possibilities. In fact, in the time it’s taken you to read this article, some ingenious bully has probably just figured out a whole new way to use the Internet to terrorize or humiliate another unsuspecting victim.
There’s a service I think every parent should know about if they’re worried about their kid on the Internet. It’s called SocialShield. I recently joined their Advisory Board because I was so impressed with their mission – to keep kids safe online. What makes them so terrific is that they can monitor your child’s Internet activity on social networking sites like Facebook, from a dignified distance. If something suspicious is going on, such as someone targeting your child as a bullying victim, SocialShield immediately alerts you via email so you can take definitive action. These guys are serious about safety, but they achieve it in a way that gives parents peace of mind without making the child feel as if their privacy is being invaded. Another great thing about SocialShield is that you don’t have to friend your child on Facebook, which can be uncomfortable for some kids.
Perhaps you’re a parent worried that your child is being bullied online, or you have concerns that your child is the bully. Or maybe you’re a teen being harassed anonymously and want to know who’s behind it. Check out the SocialShield website. They have a page specifically for teens, and loads of information for parents. This company is the answer to a prayer for me, after searching for a place to refer students, teachers and parents struggling with cyberbullying issues. SocialShield has helped a lot of people and I hope you’ll let them help you too.
For more information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.