An expert weighs in on cyber-bullying

Dr. Robin Kowalski, a psychology professor at Clemson University, recently completed a large-scale survey investigating cyber-bullying. Eighteen percent of 6th to 8th graders reported online harassment in the past two months. Dr. Kowalski expressed concern about the bind in which parents find themselves; because the internet is an increasingly important mode of communication among youth, taking computers away from victims of cyber-bullying may be a major punishment. However, some youth have experienced severe mental health issues, and a few have even committed suicide as a result of online harassment.

Dr. Kowalski recommends that parents monitor their children’s online activity, but suggests restraint. Supervision, not a keystroke logger, is appropriate. As discussed on a previous episode of The Family Anatomy Podcast, victims of bullying in “the real world” were more likely to be bullied online as well.

Doctor Giuseppe and I believe that it’s important to teach youth strategies to avoid or reduce cyberbullying. Teaching children how to block screen names and ignore users can be helpful.

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