The Cyber Bully Fight

The North Shore is officially on cyberbullying alert: The suit filed last week by Laura Cook of Wilmette, on behalf of her son who is a minor, alleges that he was defamed by four of his peers who created a fake Facebook profile using her son’s name.

 

The material published on the fake profile was “worse than Hustler,” Cook told Make It Better before filing the suit. Read more about this story at these links: the Chicago Sun-Times article and Chicago Tribune article.

Thousands of children endure harassment from classmates each year, often in the form of nasty rumors, false gossip and bullying. For these victims, back-to-school season is truly a time of fear and dread. And, thanks to online networks such as Facebook and MySpace, bullies can now spread rumors and harass victims on a much larger platform than before.

To learn how to help your kids navigate the maze of social media (and learn a thing or two yourself), don’t miss social media expert danah boyd who is coming to Wilmette Junior High School on Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.

In the meantime, what do parents need to know about gossip and other forms of bullying to keep their kids safe? Here are a few things to keep in mind and resources to check out:

  • Words do hurt. Sam Chapman, author of The No-Gossip Zone, states, “Verbal bullying, such as name-calling or rumor-mongering, can be just as devastating as physical violence. Being the victim of malicious gossip, both at school and online, is so disturbing that some children have even committed suicide as a result.”
  • Gossip can affect a child’s future. Two out of five girls have had sexual rumors spread about them. Even if the rumors are completely false, the label is so powerful that it can change the trajectory of a young girl’s life and forever alter her feelings about her body and sexuality.
  • Gossip is often unpunished. Victims of bullying are often too embarrassed to ask for help, especially if the nasty rumors are of a sexual nature. Talk to your child about how gossip and other forms of bullying are never okay, and stay involved with your child’s school and his teachers to make sure bullying doesn’t happen under their watch.

 

Web sites to visit:

www.wiredsafety.org

www.stopcyberbullying.org

www.netbullies.com

Also, check out our Q&A with Internet expert danah boyd, who’ll be speaking at Wilmette Junior High on Oct. 7.