The news that made every mother shudder and cry this week is the tragic story of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student who took his own life after online bullying made him believe he had no option other than suicide.
Online bullying has become an epidemic and Tyler Clementi‘s death is the fourth in a string of kids who have chosen to end their lives rather than continue being teased and bullied. Our kids spend so much time in a virtual world that it is hard for some parents to relate to how the bullying happens and how we can protect our children, when the violence is happening off the playground and on the Internet. HollyBaby.com asked psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert for his advice on how to protect our kids from online attacks. Here are his 6 tips.
1. Know the signs of a child being bullied: feeling upset when online, withdrawal, not wanting to go to school, sad, depressed.
2. Do not allow your child to keep a computer in their bedroom. Keep the computer in a central location.
3. Educate your child on what cyber-bullying is so that they can recognize it. Let them know what is acceptable online behavior and what’s unacceptable — provide examples.
4. Encourage them to come to you if they suspect someone is bullying them.
5. Take advantage of computer software that helps you to weed out online predators and the like.
6. Encourage your child make friends offline and have a strong social network. Cyber bullies usually target kids they feel are different or isolated and shy away from those they deem to have a strong group of friends.