Peers: just as impactful as celebrities in the fight against bullying

Did you see the video of Keaton Jones crying over his struggle with bullying at school? It was moving and heartbreaking.

The video, posted on facebook by his mother at Keaton’s request, went viral and prompted a wave of support on social media from the public and from celebrities. Actors, singers, athletes and even POTUS sent messages of support to Keaton. They expressed their sincere regret for the bullying he has had to endure, and they encouraged him to keep his chin up. Some even invited him to concerts and football games.

It’s an inspiring story and one that has increased awareness about the impact of bullying.

While it’s pretty cool to receive shout outs from celebrities, public support is not a reality for most victims of bullying. The good news is that words of sympathy and encouragement from peers can make just as much of a difference.

On-the-spot intervention by peers is the most effective way to stop the bullying from taking place and to prevent it from happening again. However, if that opportunity is missed or if the courage can’t be mustered to stand up to the bully, then reaching out to the victim after the fact, expressing sympathy, and offering encouragement will do wonders. Approaching the victim in friendship and solidarity will not only provide a boost of self-esteem, it will allow them to gain a broader perspective on the situation, recognizing that they aren’t worthless, that they deserve better, and that the bully is the odd one out.

Helping the kid feel less isolated is the best thing a peer can do.

So, if you find yourself in a position to approach a peer who is being bullied, tell them that what is happening to them really sucks. Tell them that you’re sorry it’s happening. Tell them that they don’t deserve it, and that they’re awesome.

Digital self-harm among teens: an alarming new development

A disturbing new phenomenon called ‘digital self-harm’ is slowly on the rise. Although there is not much research on the topic as yet, there have been some recent studies. The results are surprising. A study in 2016 of close to 6,000 students in the USA between the ages of 12 and 17 showed that approximately 6% of the students participated in digital self-harm. ie- anonymously posting or sharing content of themselves that would be deemed abusive or hurtful).

In other studies, information from police investigations also found many instances of digital self-harm included suggestions of committing suicide. 9% of a group of young adults admitted to participating in the act of DSH in highschool in a 2011 study of college students.

While not all acts of DSH are definite signs of depression and suicidal thoughts, it is important for more information on this subject to be made available. Some DHS is committed to get attention and fish for specific responses. Other acts of DHS are committed simply as a joke. It is important for parents and police alike to understand and consider the possibility of DHS in instances of cyberbullying – but not for the purposes of dismissing the acts as trivial, but to determine whether or not they are cries for help, as is the case in other more traditional forms of self-harm.


A call on social media networks to do more to combat cyberbullying

It used to be that kids could feel safe from bullies at home. To our great dismay, this is no longer the case. Cyberbullying allows for the terror to continue after school.

Prince William is adding his voice to the conversation. In a recent interview he said “It is one thing when it happens in the playground and it’s visible… parents and teachers and other children can see it. Online, you’re the only one who sees it, and it’s so personal. It goes straight to your room.”

After speaking to a mother of a terrible incident in which a young teen committed suicide after enduring bullying for a long period of time, Prince William was inspired to take action. He opened the Royal Foundation’s Cyberbullying Taskforce meeting at Google’s Headquarters in London and announced his proposal for a code of conduct to be instituted. This code is called ‘Stop, Speak, Support’, and is geared towards encouraging young internet users to stop participating in negative communication, to report cyberbullying incidences to the social media platform, and to support others that are being victimized.

Procedures of reporting bullying online are lacking so there has been a widespread call from a variety public bodies, such as the Royal Family, national charities, and the UK Government on tech companies to improve on their guidelines.

At the final meeting of the cyberbullying taskforce, Prince William urged tech giants to “innovate, collaborate and educate” users on the impact of cyberbullying.

The NSPCC (The UK Children’s Charity) is calling for a legally binding rulebook to be instituted that will require social media sites to protect children from online abuse.

Now, the UK Government is asking internet companies, such as Google and Facebook to pay for measures to tackle and raise awareness about online bullying. The proposed levy on social media firms and other web giants is among a series of measures laid out by governments to improve internet safety. However, it is only voluntary.

The UK’s Culture secretary said “Our ideas are ambitious – and rightly so. Collaboratively, government, industry, parents and communities can keep citizens safe online, but only by working together.”

Cyberbullying is a phenomenon of this day and age, and it is proving detrimental to the health of our young generation. The more we can work together to tackle the issue, the better.

Do you think it’s OK to spy on your kids?

Have you had this debate in your family?  As technology evolves and kids distance themselves from their parents on using it, can it be called spying for asking questions?  Should it be more importantly called “parenting”. Parents need to decide how they are going to supervise their children in their use of technology and make it a mutual exercise with them.  This article and video discusses these issues.

What is important is that you create the environment that even when you are not looking, should something happen; your child will feel comfortable in telling you about it.


What social media brings in 2015

In a few hours 2014 will come to an end.  A year that saw its share of ups and downs in cyber-safety.

The downs included, steady reports of school related bullying, continued stories of suicides relating to online harassment and the Supreme Court of Canada redefining the definition of anonymity inhibiting law enforcement’s abilities to investigate the “trolls”.

The ups include a greater awareness created by high profile cases such as guilty pleas in the Rehtaeh Parsons situation.  Social media has played a huge role in many cases whereas; the tolerance for online sexual harassment is decreasing.   It also included recognition by the Canadian Government to update the Criminal Code to protect innocent people from becoming victims of intimate photos being distributing on the Internet without their consent.  The new law, assented on December 9th 2014, also increased the powers needed by Police to investigate incidents of cyber-bullying despite stark criticism from privacy pundits.  Bill C-13 as passed can be found here.

What lies ahead in 2015.  Social Networks continue to offer more ability to populate gigabytes of data about oneself.  Users continue to post content about themselves that they may not fully understand, appreciate or simply just ignore the consequences of such over-sharing.

Social networks constantly evolve to share their users content publicly by default.  Privacy settings have become more complex and the results are that the user data generated has become easier to search for and access.    A good demonstration of this is highlighted in this article on Facebook’s new search capabilities.

2015 will continue to bring challenges and conflict in a person’s ability to use social networks in their personal lives while attempting to somehow protect the things not intended for the greater public audience.    What’s worse is when users choose to share content with an intended and limited audience but a setting or check-mark or radial button somewhere that was on/off allowed it to go somewhere else.

Make one of your New Year’s resolutions to fine-tune all of your privacy settings wherever they exist and THINK BEFORE YOU POST.


Parents of Cyberbullied Teen Create Society to Educate Young People on Cyberbullying and Sexual Violence

After losing their daughter to suicide from moonths of online harassment the parents of Rehtaeh Parsons have set up a new organization to address the prevalence of cyberbullying, youth sexual violence and the distribution of images among young people.

The Rehtaeh Parsons Society will raise money to provide education, skills and tools to help young people.


Read more about the Rehtaeh Parsons Society here

New Education Modules Launched to Combat Cyberbullying and Sexual Exploitation

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has recently launched two new modules for educators to help address the ever-growing issue of cyberbullying among teens.

According to the article below, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, who also operates, has seen a large increase in reports from young people in regard to sexual images or videos being created and shared over the Internet or through electronic devices.

As recent generations become more and more dependent on technology, it is comforting to know that educators have access to resources in order to combat the issues that arise due technology.

These two new modules have been designed for Grades 7/8, which focuses on reducing adolescent sexual exploitation and the results that this can have on youth, and Grades 9/10, which addresses the growing concern of sexual violence in youth relationships and among peer groups. Workbooks have been created to follow along with these modules in the hope that students will become engaged in the topic, making it more likely to make a difference.

Kids who are bullied in cyber-space (or anywhere) have problems with low self-esteem and are therefore more susceptible to other exploitation, including unwanted and illegal sexual advances on the internet. The link between cyberbullying, “sexting” and teen-on-teen sexual exploitation using internet-technologies is also an obvious, and growing trend.

KINSA and NobodyStandsAlone want to help put an end to both of these issues.

Read the full story on the Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s new educational modules here.

Teens ditch Facebook for new social media favorite

A U.S. study released yesterday shows 9 out 10 kids are on Instagram, only 45% use Facebook for their social network of choice.  We believe there would be many similarities for Canadian kids on this topic.

How about your teens, is this consistent with your family?


Read the full story and see the stats from this study here.

Bullying Prevention requires buy-in from all Institutions

This story is shocking.  Instead of taking the opportunity to highlight and commend a bullying victim for her actions, Caitlin’s school reprimanded her for the positive reaction she chose.  It is disappointing to think that school officials, whom arguably have first-hand as well as daily front-line experience in dealing with these issues, opted not to support a victim.  

This young girl should be commended for standing up and showing her school and inevitably the unidentified bully she was strong.  Kudos to the other students and the community for supporting her as do we.  Good on you Caitlin, we hope your acts will inspire other victims to stand up against bullies. 

Read the full story here.

Teen arrested for harassing teacher with ‘cyberbullying app’

Cyberbullying knows no limits and it isn’t just about teens victimizing other teens.  Many adults are victims of harassment online as well as the perpetrators of online abuse.  This story brings to light how important it is to ensure you or your child is not in fact a ‘cyberbully’.   Our website offers a quiz to find this out, take the test.

The article demonstrates how new technologies are developed everyday that increase the opportunities weaker people choose to put down the strong.

The App that was used in this case, one of dozens online or on mobile phones creates an environment that facilitates this kind of harassment aimed at school settings:  Streetchat

Don’t forget, you nor anyone else has to be subjected to online abuse or harassment, nobody stands alone.  Report cyberbullies.