What has this world come to? I asked myself the same question when I read that a girl shot herself in front of her parents tired of cyber-bullying. However, she continued to be harassed online even after her death. The worst part is, the bully, or a bunch of them, made fun of her suicide on a page set up as a eulogy to her.
Brandy Vela, an 18-year-old girl from Texas ended her life this month. She was subjected to merciless bullying. The subject – her weight. According to her elder sister, bullies would create fake profiles of her on dating site, giving her real number. The family complained about this to police, but they could not do much.
The day she decided to end her life, she sent a text to her family.
Just before she shot herself, her sister heard someone crying and entered her room. She found Brandy with a gun pointed at her chest, crying relentlessly. The family tried hard to stop her from going ahead, but they were unsuccessful. She shot herself and succumbed to her injuries while in the hospital.
She was laid to rest on December 7, 2016. Two days later, someone created a Facebook group as a eulogy to her. Unfortunately, the cyber-bullies did not even spare the dead girl. According to the news report, either the same person or four different people poked fun about her suicide. It was very horrible thing to do.
But her death lead to a lot of activism against cyber-bullying. Her father is garnering support of netizens against such modern-day torture. The worst thing about it is that even a person least likely to do so in public, would end up passing judgements under the anonymity of the internet.
The group has become a closed group now, and it is strictly not for bullies.
Is your kid being cyber-bullied?
Contrary to what you may think, cyber-bullying is not that uncommon. If your kid plays multi-player games online or if he has a presence on social network, chances are, he is being bullied. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, your child may be a victim of cyber-bullying if he displays signs of social withdrawal. This means not doing things that he previously used to enjoy.
In addition to the emotional disturbances, he might avoid a few places, get a new set of friends or avoid using technology altogether. As pointed out, a red flag is a sudden withdrawal of technology.
But on the other hand, if he is bullying someone, he would be extremely secretive about his online activities. He might get agitated if his technology privileges are restricted.
What do you do if this happens?
Being bullied or being a bully is not to be taken lightly. The problem is, children do not often distinguish between the real world and the virtual world and end up taking drastic steps if not helped in time.
Here are the things you can do in such situations
- Keep the tech in open spaces. It sounds very difficult but it is not impossible. Instead of giving your kids tablets and laptops, install a desktop computer in the living room. This ensures that they are never alone in front of the computer. Restrict their online presence. There is a reason you cannot create an email id for a child till he turns 13.
- Take any behavioural changes seriously. Teens have a tendency for mood swings. But it may also be due to the bullying. If your child is being bullied, he needs you. So keep an open dialogue with your kid.
- Make them understand that the real world matters ultimately. Yes, it is difficult to separate our online presence from the real world. However, it is imperative that he learns the value of keeping the two things separate. He learns from you. So keep a tab on your online footprint. Instead, take him out to see the real world – the one with opulence and the soup kitchens. Make him understand that ultimately, what matters is that he carves an identity for himself in the real world.
- Find the reason. If your kid is being a bully, there has to be a strong reason behind it. Talk to your kid. Maybe, he is not aware of the impact it has on other people. Maybe, he is just being a kid, or maybe he is trying to fit in. But if there is a more serious reason, you will need a professional help in dealing with him. Don’t hesitate to consult a psychiatrist. Ultimately, what matters is that he gets help.
Let us join hands in this fight against cyber-bullying.
Image source: Facebook
Also read: What parents need to know about bullying