A very serious threat to the well-being of children is one that many parents still know too little about: cyber-bullying. Its effects can be devastating.
We have all read news reports of young suicide victims, bullied into believing life was no longer worth living because of relentless attacks over the Internet.
One can only imagine the ripple effect these tragedies have had on the victims’ families, and their communities, and even on the perpetrators.
Most young people who take part in cyber-bullying do it as a joke, and don’t pause to consider the impacts. Throughout human history, young people have shown they can be mean to each other, but the Internet has provided them with the tools to be truly cruel.
Many parents are simply not up to speed when it comes to social network sites or the online places their own children visit. New sites seem to emerge each day.
Add in the presence of text messages and video messages, and it all means that parenting in the age of cyber-crimes is more challenging than ever.
It might seem like a good idea to give a young child a cell phone with Internet access, but parents should consider the trade-offs they are making when they do so.
Yes, children will be able to stay in touch; but the risk is real, especially with young children whose judgment and decision-making skills are not yet fully developed.
Our office is working in partnership with District Attorney Joyce Dudley to address and reduce incidents of cyber-bullying. Parents need to be active partners in these efforts as well.