Friday, November 23, 2012

Facebook and students! A new level of bullying.

The Herald article about students setting up anonymous Facebook accounts that then become the centre of revolting, cruel and dangerous harassment are unfortunately true. Working in a school and hearing from students about this insidious evil use of the Facebook services, makes me feel powerless at times to protect students from the ramifications of this situation.
It has been going on for quite a while and many students have informed me about some of the goings on. Everything and more as reported in the Herald is true. Some students have stayed home rather than face the humiliation they feel as a result of naively ‘telling all’ or from being the target of others’ nasty comments. Much of what is said about students is untrue and once the ‘exaggeration machine takes hold,’ then the story can take on a life of its own.
Schools can talk to students and bring in ‘switched on’ youth speakers to address the issue but once our young people get online, in an unsupervised (have you ever tried to monitor your kids use of the Net?) way and all bets are off about what occurs.
Adults are less than one step ahead of their kids and even when they think they know what is going on in their offspring’s world, they are deluding themselves. For some parents the only answer is to get rid of the computer but then the kids use smartphones that the parents may not even know exist.
Is this out of control? Maybe, but the old adage about ‘talking to your kids’ and having a measure of trust will go a way to knowing what is going on. If your kids talk to you, there is a slim chance that they will let you know. Sadly that level of communication between parents and their children is not how it is out there for many families.
Schools will continue to do their best to back up parents so that our kids are safe, but we can only do so much. We will continue to work with the kids and by having key students keep us up with what is going on, we can help. Encourage your kids to talk to whoever can help.
If we don’t keep up with the kids we are going to see some tragic results. It is a problem for us all, so don’t hold back.