The role of parents in confronting the bully at school

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Cyber safety for kids and families with Joanna and Jodie on 103.9FM The Fish

17-year-old Michael Berry took his life in 2008 in response to relentless cyberbullying. SB231 is Michael's bill to create a bully crisis hotline to help people curb the hostility our children are expressing in their cyber powered communities.

In September of 2008, 17-year-old Michael Berry of Carmichael, Ca., took his life in response to relentless cyberbullying that robbed him of his identity and left him without hope.

Back to school is a time of excitement as well as insecurity and uncertainty. And in the cyber social realm, where it is easy to be mean, the cyberbully phenomenon surfaces as a topic of concern and conversation. While bullying is not new, the level of hostility and persistent invasiveness that mobile connectivity inspires in the social networks our children navigate on and off line is unprecedented. And the children need socialization to help them overcome the lack of empathy that can happen from behind the screen. It is a challenge that has inspired legislation across the nation to make cyberbullying cause for disciplinary action in schools.

The documentary Bully (which was showing in select theaters in spring of 2012), is going to premiere as an Independent Lens feature on PBS this fall (Oct. 13). This movie features the reality of how lack of empathy and respect for human dignity experienced by children in the current campus culture is inspired and enabled by cyber tools that isolate individuals and make clandestine hostile and harassing interactions, and a parenting and educator culture indifferent to and/or uniformed about the brutality of the children’s social experiences as bullies, victims and bystanders.

Related: The wisdom of being brave in a cyber-powered world

Some of the social challenges our children face include:

• Lack of socialization as cyber citizens. Bullying and civility are learned behavior. And civility doesn’t come easily in a cyber-powered world where emotions are hyped 24X7. Civility is hard-won with a mindset that does not agree with the fear and insecurity of the hostility inspired by bully mentality (which is a powerless, victim state of mind.)

• So much of the communication is clandestine. Texting and social media make it more challenging for parents to witness and provide guidance on the way in which children are handling conflict.

• Easy to be anonymous and mean. From behind the screen, inhibitions are easily loosened. And when you feel anonymous, there is no personal accountability with perceived consequences. So much of the hurt inflicted is not witnessed by the bully or bullies.

So the best way to overcome the bully climate, is to be an advocate for justice for all.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

Lisa Ford Berry, founder of B.R.A.V.E. Society, poses with her Willow statue of a mother and two children, called "Quiet". For Lisa this statue represents the essence of her mother heart, full of gratitude for her children, which she purchased a couple of days before Michael's death.

Michael Berry’s mom, Lisa Ford Berry, founder of B.R.A.V.E. Society, poses with her Willow statue of a mother and two children, called “Quiet”. For Lisa this statue represents the essence of her mother heart, full of gratitude for her children, which she purchased a couple of days before Michael’s death.

Tips for parents

• Rights come with responsibility. Parents must know their rights and responsibilities at school so they can be advocates for justice. In order to confront and quell the bully, parents must be in a mindset to advocate justice for all. Responsible adults need to stop excusing bad behavior as a phase, and hold individuals accountable with a merciful heart –not a condemning and critical heart.
• Get a copy of your child’s school parent handbook and read it.
Know the law and verify that school policy is being enforced.
• Promote a culture of transparency and open communication in the home (subscribe to Banana Moments)
BRAVE Society website has more tips.

Related: Confronting the bully handout

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Joanna Jullien (Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien
(Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.

Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show 103.9FM  started a blog called, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens

Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show 103.9FM started a blog called, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens

Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM The Fish offers insights and lessons learned about faith and recovery from addiction. Check out her blog, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens, weekday mornings on the Family Morning Show.

 

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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna (jullien@surewest.net) and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.

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