How to Stop Bullying? Listen Live Tonight!

On April 26th, a group of teens were walking home when a Jeep containing several more teens followed and harassed them. In the end, Nathan Wombles was senselessly and brutally struck and killed in front of his family while protecting his brother, who was in the group of teenagers walking home. On Wednesday’s Thrive Global Network’s show, I am on with Kellye Williams and Mary Nichelson. They will talk with Nathan’s wife regarding the incident and to learn more about the man that Nathan was. Then they will be joined by myself, Thrive’s own Jill Osborne-licensed professional counselor-as I helps them work through the reality of bullying. We are dedicating this 1-hour special to the Wombles family, Nathan’s memory, and to acquire hands-on advice in dealing with a subject that impacts everyone. It’s an all new Thrive Weekly Magazine at 7 PM EST. http://www.revmediatv.com/radio/thrive-global-network -with Sandra Finley Ludwig

6 Therapeutic Interventions for Children and Adolescents Involved in Cyber-Bullying; Interview with Holli Kenley Part 2

 

Holli Kenley
Holli Kenley

Last post I Interviewed Holli Kenley about her book, Cyber Bullying No More, and she gave so many good tips for therapists and parents I decided to write two posts. Today I want to focus on tips for therapists who are working with children and adolescents who have experienced cyber bullying. To read information about how parents can support their kids, visit “Cyber Bullying No More!, Parenting a High Tech Generation” Part 1: Tips for Parents with Holli Kenley.

What are some reasons you think kids use the Internet to bully other kids?

 

There are two main reasons why cyber bullying is so prevalent.

  • Technology provides ‘anonymity’ for the cyber bully. This is really important. The cyber bully is distanced from the victim (no face to face connection), detached from the real word (identity protected) and disinhibited from the harm or hurt being inflicted on the victim. Thus, the cyber bully feels disconnected from the real world and his/her actions.
  • Technology provides a “huge power differential” between the victim and the bully. The bully is able to effectuate his/her agenda with ease. An expansive audience and limitless victimization reinforce the bullying behavior, and the bully is emboldened because of the lack of accountability and overwhelming factors of reinforcement.  Thus, the cyber bully feels empowered.

Research suggests that the main motivations for cyber bullying include:

  • Revenge or retaliation
  • Power and control
  • Cool and fun
  • Use as a defense mechanism (insecure, angry, jealous, mean)

It is interesting to note that Albert Bandura’s current research suggests that cyber bullying is a behavioral manifestation of the ‘process of moral disengagement,’ largely learned and reinforced by the factors of anonymity and power differential.  Group work focusing on the areas of restorative justice, with a heavily embedded empathy component is strongly recommended.

How do you feel a therapist could help a child who is involved in Cyber bullying? Either as a victim or the bully?

Many children take on the roles of both cyber victim and cyber bully (cyber bully victim).  It is important to assess for both roles and their involvement in each.  During the intake process, it is extremely important to conduct a thorough 5Axis Diagnosis, paying special attention to Axis I – Clinical Disorders. Also, with both victims and bullies, assess for thoughts of suicide and homicide (Duty to Report and Duty to Warn).

Here are three interventions for each.

 

For a child who is being cyber victimized, remember the 3 “S”:

 

  • Safety Net – Implement safety measures and develop a step-by-step plan for the victim who is in danger of harming him/herself or others (victims are more like to carry a weapon than bullies). Pay attention to levels of depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behaviors. Implement technological safety measures as well. Put a strong ‘net’ around this child!
  • Support – Believe and validate the child and his/her feelings. Listen, empathize, and develop a support system for the child. Let the victim know that he/she is not alone.
  • Social Skills Development – Many victims are feeling powerless. Either through individual or group counseling, working on assertive communication and self- empowerment skills is extremely important.

 

For a child who is cyber bullying, remember the 3 “C’s”:

 

  • Consequences –Remember that the goal with the cyber bully is to change the behavior. Research suggests that punishment by itself does not work, nor does solely taking the technology away. There should be appropriate consequences that correlate with degree of severity of bullying. (One exception would be if there is a duty to report given the laws within each community or state.) Making meaningful amends to the victim or acts of restorative justice are highly recommended.
  • Contract  – A Family Online Agreement should be implemented at once with clear guidelines on appropriate use, rules, and expectations. Whether one is in place or not, there are grounds for restricting usage of technology for a designated period of time. During this time, the child must demonstrate accountability and responsibility for his/her behaviors. Frequent monitoring is mandatory.
  • Counseling – It is extremely important to perform a ‘needs assessment’ with the cyber bully. The motivations for bullying vary widely; and thus, effective interventions do as well. Research suggests that group counseling with an emphasis on empathic skill building is highly successful in reversing bullying behaviors.

 

Tell about other publications that are available, or that you are working on

Resources on Cyber Bullying:

  • One of the best online sites for references is Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) – www.fosi.org . There are all kinds of tools, downloads, materials, etc. available for counselors, therapists, educators, and families.
  • Another excellent reference is Cyber Kids, Cyber Bullying, Cyber Balance (Trolley & Hanel, 2010).

 

Other Publications by Holli Kenley

 

  • The PMS Puzzle: a recovery book based on my own struggle with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.
  • Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering The Peace With, a self-help book addressing recovery from all kinds of betrayal.
  • two e-singles:  Betrayal-Proof Your Relationship: What Couples Need to Know and Do
  • Cyber Bullying no More: Parenting A High Tech Generation.
  •  My newest book is Mountain Air: Relapsing and Finding the Way Back…One Breath at a Time, addressing recovery from any type of relapse.
  • I conduct workshops about cyber bullying to parents and at educational workshops and at therapeutic/recovery conferences.
  • Recently, a small group of community members and I participated in a two day Valley Wide Anti-Bullying Outreach Event which will take place August 29th– 30th , 2013 in my hometown of Prescott , AZ.  As part of the event, we will screaned the “Bully Movie’ and we had 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.

I started this interview by saying that cyber bullying (and bullying) is a family issue, a community issue, and a societal issue.  Yes, parents must do their part, but so must we all.   Thank you Holli for your time and expertise on the important subject of Cyber Bullying. To purchase Cyber Bullying No More, please visit: Amazon.com or other major and independent book sellers. To read more about Holli and her work, please visit her website www.hollikenley.com

“Cyber Bullying No More!, Parenting a High Tech Generation” Part 1: Tips for Parents with Holli Kenley

cyberbullyfrontcover

“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.

Anti-Bullying Outreach Event August 29-30 2013

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