Parents can help combat cyber bullying

The Chalma family uses the whiteboard animation “Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists,” available on jw.org, to help their two children combat cyberbullying.

While remote learning during the pandemic has lowered reported instances of bullying, parents fear that, for some students, going back to school will mean going back to being bullied.

“In my line of work, I’ve seen how cyber bullying greatly affects students,” said Hortencia Chalma, an administrative assistant in the Sunnyside School District and mother of

two.

Today, 15 years after the inception of October’s National Bullying Prevention Month, technology’s ever-greater presence in children’s lives gives bullying a new outlet. Victims report feeling hopeless, isolated, even suicidal.

What can parents do to protect their kids? The National Parent Teacher Association says taking an interest in your children’s online world can make a difference. Additionally, the federal site stopbullying.gov advises watching for subtle clues that something is wrong.

For Hortencia and her husband Nehemías, that means regular, open communication with their daughter, 16, and son, 7, students in the Sunnyside School District.

“We’re trying to be available,” Hortencia explained, “for when they’re ready to talk.”

In its online tips for parents UNICEF advises, “The more you talk to your children about bullying, the more comfortable they will be telling you if they see or experience it.”

Beyond talking, listening, and observing their kids, parents shouldn’t be afraid to make rules for online activities, experts say.

Nehemías said the couple does their best to set age-appropriate boundaries for both children. To help them recognize the potential for trouble online, they use free resources available on jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Their son enjoys the animated video, “Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists,” while their daughter recommends the article, “What if I’m Being Cyberbullied?”

“It really tells you what to do, it gives you three to four suggestions,” she said. “I think it’s very helpful.”

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