"If only I had known how bad the bullying was. If only I had known what my child was going through.” These are the sad but common phrases I hear from parents every time I read a story about a teen suicide. So why is it that kids don’t tell their parents or the adults at school when they are being harassed, intimidated and bullied?
Here is what kids tell me. These are the reasons that teens don’t tell:
- Your advice doesn’t work.
- What’s the point? You can’t make it stop.
- The adult often takes action that makes the harassment worse.
I feel extremely lucky. I work with teens everyday. I ask what they think and and listen to what they feel. That is how I teach. Because I am in a position to listen to what they really think and feel, I write this to plead with other parents and educators that we need to change our behavior! In order to protect our kids, here are the two things that we, as adults, need to address!
- Change what we do and say so that are kids WILL come to us.
- Make ourselves aware of what kids are doing in their online world.
First, I invite you to attend any one of my seminars around North America. I am hired by school districts and community groups to show parents what kids are being exposed to, what they are doing and posting online, the personal and legal consequences connected with particular actions and I provide specific actions that you can take on a daily or weekly basis to protect your children.
As we start the new school year, many of our children are attending new schools and making new friends. Many of them are playing on sports teams with kids they have never socialized with before. With these new experiences and friendships come many different situations. With many of our children entering new schools, our children are being exposed to older and more mature kids.
Second, for those of you parents who have NEVER looked at your kids’ Facebook or cell phone, for these reasons I have stated, this is why I advise you to be involved in your child’s online life, the same as you are involved in your child’s off line life. It is your job to protect your child! How can you protect them if you don’t know what they are going through?
For those of you educators who have NEVER asked your students about what is going on with stuff on Facebook…try this, “So is there anything going on with Facebook or Twitter that you think is mean or hurtful?” And then follow that up by saying, “If you ever need an ear or advice on how to handle a sticky situation, I’m here for you.” If you make it known to a confused and conflicted teenager that you are available to listen, there is a pretty good chance, that teen will eventually need you. And remember, don’t react, don’t do anything, just listen and give advice on how they should handle the situation.”–
Generation Text Online