“Cyber Bulling No More: Parenting a High Tech Generation,” by, Hollie Kenley is a practical guide for parents to help navigate the issue of cyber bullying with their children, both victims and bullies. You can read my review of her book on Amazon.
The issue of how to teach our children how to be responsible with technology is a hot topic for parents that I work with (and in my own house!), so I know I will be referring parents to this book.
I interviewed Holli and there was so much to say that I have separated it into two posts. Today we will focus on the background of the book, and tips for parents on how to help their children deal with cyber bullying if it occurs.
Tell us about your background.
My first profession was as a middle and high school humanities teacher for almost 30 years. During that time, I returned to graduate school to become a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. I counseled in a faith-based counseling center before moving into private practice. Early on, I was drawn to the areas of abuse, trauma and betrayal, working with both individuals as well as couples. Later on, my work became specialized in the area of sexual abuse recovery.
What inspired you to write Cyber Bullying No More?
As a teacher, I was disturbed by the bullying behaviors that I witnessed at school. With the advancements in technology and the birth of a new type of bullying – cyber bullying – I was shocked by its prevalence and its potency.
In 2006, when I started hearing about young people such as Megan Meier taking their lives because of relentless cyber bullying, I remember saying to myself, “Enough is enough! This must stop!” It was time to action and I wanted to do something to help. And from there, Cyber Bullying No More: Parenting A High Tech Generation(link) was created. It’s all about how to protect and defend your children from this potentially deadly experience.
Who will benefit from this book?
Parents/guardians and children will benefit from this book! I wanted to give busy parents them some straight forward strategies on how to communicate with their children about cyber bullying and how to implement practical steps to safeguard their children.
Educators, counselors, and therapists could also use this book as an educational as well as therapeutic tool with their students, families, and clients.
What age group do you think deals with cyber bullying the most?
Early research indicated that cyber bullying was more prevalent in the middle school years; but a vast majority of the surveys administered were at that grade level. Current research suggests that cyber bullying is problematic at all ages, with an increase correlating with more technological proficiency. Today, it is estimated that one in three children will experience cyber bullying (in some form) during his/her school years. Children with special needs as well as GLTB youth are more highly targeted.
What do you think is the most challenging part for kids involved in cyber bullying? For Parents?
Kids who are being cyber victimized are fearful of reporting because of retaliation. Victims believe that they won’t be believed and that no one will or can do anything about it. So, they won’t tell and continue to be victimized for long periods of time. They show feelings of isolation, fear, and depression. They are often highly anxious and resort to unhealthy behaviors to self- soothe. Out of frustration and fear, it is common for a victim to also take on the role of a cyber bully.
The most challenging part for parents/guardians is that they don’t know what to do or where to begin. In my opinion, they often turn to the schools to fix it out of their own fear and frustration. This can be one step in the process, but it cannot be the only step. Cyber bullying is an epidemic anti-social behavior that becomes a family issue, a community issue, and a societal issue. We must all do our part.
What are your top three tips for parents about how to protect a child from Cyber Bullying?
‘Protect’ is a key word. When I use this word, I am referring to methods that will help ‘safeguard against cyber bullying’. My top three tips for protection are the following:
- Implement a “Family Online Safety Contract”. A free download is available at www.fosi.org/resources/html . It is mandatory that parents must begin talking to their children about how to use technology responsibly as early as possible. There is no better way of explaining the rules and expectations about the use of technology than having a written agreement that everyone understands and respects.
- Parents must know why they are giving children access to a piece of technology or giving them permission to utilize the technology. Think about their age, what they can handle or not, and go slowly. Let your children demonstrate success and responsibility before giving them more usage and freedoms.
- Parents must monitor the use of the technology! No, I am not kidding! Remember, our children can go anywhere in the cyber world at any time. Get to know your children’s Net Neighborhood just as you would their school environment or other social groups. Spend time with them; learn with them; begin to communicate and connect with them about their online life.
A small group of community members and I have been working on a two day Valley Wide Anti-Bullying Outreach Eventwhich will take place August 29th– 30th , 2013 in my hometown of Prescott , AZ. As part of the event, we will be screening the “Bully Movie’ and we will have guest speaker Kirk Smalley, whose family was profiled in the movie, speak to several schools and at an open community forum. Mr. Smalley’s organization – Stand For The Silent – is an international movement of change – an outgrowth in remembrance of his son Ty, who took his own life at 11 years old after years of relentless bullying