Bullies have crept from school hallways and playgrounds to the Internet. E-bullies, as they are called, take advantage of the Internet to ridicule, tease, and intimidate children in their own homes.
What’s worse, many parents don’t know about the danger lurking behind their computer screen, said Lori and Cal Schutte, whose child experienced cyberbullying by classmates from her Christian school.
Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Grandville, Mich., recently featured two dramas written by the Schuttes to teach parents what to do to stop the bullying.
Forbidding computer use isn’t a solution, Lori says, because technology offers valuable help with homework, hobbies, social networking, and feelings of inclusion with peers. Instead, she urges parents to learn the same computer skills their children know.
Parents need to look up their children’s social networking page, usually on MySpace.com or Xanga.com, to check the information their children have posted and to identify their online buddies.
Learning about instant messaging and blogs and finding out which websites your child has visited are important too. Lori tells parents their child can be their best teacher; but some schools offer computer-safety classes for parents, and sites such as www.wiredsafty.org or www.isafe.org give tips.
“You wouldn’t drop off your child at the mall without knowing who they were meeting, so know who they are meeting on the Web,” Lori advises.