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What Parents Need to Know About Cyberbullying

In our incessantly interconnected world cyber bullying has become a major headache and concern, particularly for middle school and high school kids and their parents.

Bullying (whether “old-fashioned” or cyber) has always been hard to define and can depend on culture, temperament of the child, as well as sensitivity and expectations of parents and school officials.

Certain behaviors, though, can be hurtful to the self esteem and development of a potentially bullied child, and require adults to step in and moderate the situation.

Dr. Ellen Selkie, a clinical lecturer in adolescent medicine at the University of Michigan gives parents practical and useful advice on this painful topic in her latest blog post. She helps define what cyber bullying is, how to figure out if your child is being cyber bullied, what to do about it, and how to prevent this from happening in the future.

Dr. Selkie writes that “a study released this week by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health found many differences in opinion among parents in what behavior is considered cyberbullying and what appropriate punishment should be for cyberbullying.  For example, whether or not the action of posting online rumors about another student was considered cyberbullying was dependent on what the rumor was about. For instance, if the rumor pertained to cheating on a test, parents generally considered it to be less characteristic of cyberbullying than a rumor about having sex in the school building. Less than half of parents gave the “definitely cyberbullying” label to sharing a photo altered to make a student look fat.” Read more.

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