Latest Updates

Parents Must be Vigilant to Keep Cyber Bullying at Bay

Published on 12.09.12

via Observer&Eccentric Media

Wayne County Sheriff's Cpl. Erin Diamond believes bullies want the same type of response online as they do in person.

“The bully just wants a response. As adults, we were taught back in school back that you turn your shoulder and walk the other way,” he said. “The same thing can be done online.”

Diamond and Michigan State Police Trooper Leonard Attar spoke to parents and students Tuesday night at Redford's Thurston High School about cyber bullying and how to defend against it, as well as online safety.

Cyber bullying involves children leaving hurtful messages about other children on websites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The rise in popularity of Internet use in the daily lives of children is moving some traditional types of bullying online, and it's causing some teens to cause harm to themselves.

The officers cited several cases, including Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old who committed suicide in Massachusetts after being bullied in school and online. Six students were charged with crimes regarding her suicide.

“They didn't start off the day trying to harass this person,” Diamond said. “We don't know what happens in people's home lives. So when they come to school, they come to school to escape those things. So for us to hop on the social networks and start harassing her, throwing comments up or making fun of people, we just don't know what's going on at home.”

Michigan has launched initiatives to help keep teachers, parents and students aware of the risks of cyber bullying, and has a whole resource center online at michigan.gov/cybersecurity.

“It doesn't seem like much, but the courts have taken a keen eye to what's going on right now,” Diamond said. “Because bullying has escalated from name-calling to kids injuring themselves.”

Safety online

One of the best methods parents can do to monitor their children's online activity is by signing up for the same social networking services.

Monitoring a teen's activity is especially important as services grow and more people and groups utilize them, Diamond said.

“Mom and dad, you have to know this stuff's out there,” he said. “Ignoring it and saying, ‘You know what, I just don't want to deal with it,' it's not going away.”

It's best to work with children on using social media rather than shutting them out of it altogether. Attar said his daughter went around his back and began using Facebook, something he had told her not to do.

Children will still find a way to use these sites even if they are told not to, Attar said.

“Even though she knows exactly what we do, every day, day in and day out, kids will still try to get around it,” he said.

Gangs are seeing the potential of Facebook and are tapping into it, something parents need to be aware of.

Photos of gang tattoos are used to showcase the group on sites such as Facebook and Flickr, a photo-sharing service.

“The No. 1 place kids get recruited is online. That's where all the gangs are,” Diamond said. “They post all their fight videos, that's how they recruit.”