Beat a Cyberbully

Here’s How Parents can Help

provided by Joshua Caleb Johnson

While remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic lowered reported instances of bullying, children spent more time online, and the threat of cyberbullying remained a constant.

The Ezes, of Syracuse, New York, use resources on jw.org to teach their son about cyberbullying. The official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses is free for everyone and contains articles and videos such as “Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists,” to help prepare families to deal with current issues. – PHOTO COURTESY OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES

“We are very concerned,” said Justice Eze, father of four, ages 9, 11, 13 and 15, from Syracuse, New York. As parents coming from a generation that grew up without the internet in their home, Justice and his wife, Phoebe, worry about the safety of their children and the potential dangers, including cyberbullying.

Their son experienced a smear on his reputation when his identity was used by a classmate to send a malicious message to someone. A teacher witnessed the incident and resolved the issue to clear his name, but he saw the hurt that can be inflicted by a cyberbully.

Technology’s ever-greater presence in children’s lives allows cyberbullies to taunt, harass and threaten relentlessly with just a click. Cyberbullies can at once anonymously reach their victims in their own homes via cellphone or computer. As a result, victims report feeling hopeless, isolated and even suicidal.

What can parents do to protect their kids? Taking an interest in their children’s online world can make a difference, says the National Parent Teacher Association.

This interest does not necessarily require parents to become tech experts. Instead, the federal stopbullying.gov site advises parents to watch for subtle clues that something is wrong, such as their child becoming withdrawn, hiding their screen when others are nearby or reacting emotionally to what’s happening on their device.

Noticing personality changes is key for Justice and Phoebe. “When we notice one of the children is quiet, we ask what’s going on,” said Justice.

Talking with kids openly—and often—helps too. “The more you talk to your children about bullying, the more comfortable they will be telling you if they see or experience it,” UNICEF says in its online tips for parents.

“We try to keep the lines of communication open,” Phoebe said. “We let them know they can talk to us anytime about any issue.”

“We eat together in the evening and have time for family discussions,” Justice added. They make time to play games with their kids and have fun as well. This helps keep their family close and Justice said, “everybody can openly address each other.”

The Ezes discuss the dangers of the internet with their kids and set limits. “They know not to start playing online games with people they don’t know,” Phoebe said.

They try to balance protecting their family with allowing some freedom and the children understand if they violate the rules, they can lose privileges. The kids appreciate that the restrictions they have are a protection. “My parents have set guidelines for what sites we’re supposed to use and what not to use so we don’t come in contact with strangers,” said their 11-year-old daughter. “It keeps us safe and away from people who would try to hurt us via the internet,” their 13-year-old son added.

Justice and Phoebe found videos on jw.org helpful for teaching their children about internet safety and bullying. “The whiteboard animations have been really wonderful for us,” Phoebe said. “The way the information is presented makes it easy for a young person to know what’s going on.”

The family uses the resources from the website frequently and recommends it to others. The advice their oldest son learned about facing a bully is: “Find an adult you trust, and they can help figure out a way to resolve the situation.”

Other tips and free resources are available at jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, such as a short-animated video “Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists.”

For More Information

Watch the animated video: How to defend yourself without landing a single blow.

 

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About JW.ORG

JW.ORG® presents the worldwide scope of the Witnesses’ outreach programs and provides articles, videos and interactive features for families, teens and children in over 1,000 languages.

Jehovah’s Witnesses come from hundreds of ethnic and language backgrounds, yet we are united by common goals. Above all, we want to honor Jehovah, the God of the Bible. We do our best to imitate Jesus Christ and are proud to be called Christians. Each of us regularly spends time helping people learn about the Bible and God’s Kingdom. Because we witness, or talk, about Jehovah God and his Kingdom, we are known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. To read the Bible online and learn more about us and our beliefs visit jw.org.

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