The Bully Lady

We need to fight cyberbullying


No child should be sad at school.

I’ve spent the last few months speaking to elementary and middle school principals in Nassau County. The reason for this was to listen to their concerns regarding all aspects of bullying. From the feedback and information obtained from them, I decided the direction to go with this information.

We will center on personal responsibility for all students  — whether they are in kindergarten or eighth grade in middle school. This is the perfect time of the year to do this, as we’ve had nearly three months of practice keeping our “New Year’s resolutions” and beginning the new school term for this school year.

As the principals voiced their concerns (note I spoke with new principals whom I had never met before), they centered very much on cyberbullying and what the future of this might be. I had the opportunity to explain to them that cyberbullying doesn’t come out of nowhere. These students have had issues with each other before they sat down in front of the computer or picked up a cell phone. 

Bullying through electronics (as we call it cyberbullying) extends in many directions, some in breach of laws now in place. Will it end? No. The world of electronics changes rapidly, and so does the “ideas” our children come up with to bully each other.

In most cases, personal responsibility is lacking. Many children don’t think about the consequences of their actions. Thereby, the far-reaching effects of hurting other children by their words now put into writing has no meaning to them. It was noted that the age of the children is lower each school year as they become more proficient in using electronics.

What should we do? This is the big question. There is a famous saying, “If you don’t train them, don’t blame them.” Simply put, convincing our children that once something has entered cyberspace, it is there forever is very difficult. Most of them don’t believe this, even though many schools have the local police departments in to speak with their students. 

Where do we begin with this training? We need to instill in them the importance of being honest with themselves so they can be honest with other people.  It’s okay to say the following: “I did the wrong thing,” “I am sorry,” “I will think before I speak or act the next time.” Lying is the ultimate lack of personal responsibility. 

Empathy for others is a key ingredient of teaching personal responsibility. If our children were taught and taught by spaced repetition to live the golden rule, they would treat people the way they want to be treated. The lack of this ability is cyberbullying!

Once they are involved in the world of cyberbullying, much damage control is needed by going back again to teaching the basics. Will cyberbullying always be around now? To some degree it will, but let’s lessen that by never giving up hope for the future of our children.

No child should be sad at school.