Jenni Adams joined the group Terry is a loser. Wed at 2:33pm · Join this Group
SShhhh…don’t tell anyone…we all know that the key to bullying whether it is cyber bullying, school yard or workplace bullying is secrecy. “Don’t tell anyone, hide it, whisper it, keep it under wraps” are the central ingredients.
So in the face of this I write loudly and publicly this week about a particular misuse of social networking sites that has come to our attention and suggest ways that you as parents can break into the secret code to ensure that it is not occurring in your home.
On Facebook, it is possible to set up a ‘Group’, name it, invite your friends to join it and add a comment about the topic. There are many worthwhile Groups set up around the world to promote positive aspects of our community however the facility is also open to misuse.
Sadly students are setting up their own groups aimed at embarrassing, making fun of, and offending other students. Bullies draw attention to another student setting up Groups like Nobody likes Jason or Belinda is fat. Other students are invited to agree with these propositions and to join the group. As they join the membership grows and these members begin to add comments often in consensus.
Jason and Belinda are publicly targeted. Their friends can see the names of these groups even if they chose not to join them. If they join they add to the humiliation Jason and Belinda are feeling as the number of people who have joined the group is constantly updated. Anyone who joins the group can comment or read the comments furthering the embarrassment felt by Jason and Belinda. They watch helplessly as this unfolds in on screen front of their eyes at home. The next day at school Jason and Belinda feel students looking at them, whispering about them, laughing or calling out as they go by. They can’t escape it either at school or at home. If they have an iphone or a blackberry, it even follows them around the yard and on the bus home. They often don’t tell anyone because it adds to the shame they already feel.
It is happening. You can be sure of this. Your child may be responsible for setting up a group, joining a group, and/or adding a comment. Or your child might be the subject of a group.
It is hard for schools to monitor this. Sometimes, other students will bring it to our attention, and we are able to respond but often we are in dark. It happens behind secret facebook passwords, in private worlds outside school hours.
We need your help! What can you do?
Create your own Facebook account. If you want to protect your child on Facebook, you must be on the site yourself. You need to learn how it works. The earlier you start the better as your child will be open to your involvement.
If your child is under the age of 13 they are NOT permitted to have a Face book page and if they do they have not told the truth about their age when they joined.
If your child is 13 or over ensure that they are your Facebook friend. This allows you to see all activity on his/ her page. You can see who he/she is friends with and the types of comments being left. This will stop a lot of bullying on Facebook right away. Kids are generally smart enough not to leave comments that parents are going to read. Eventually you want to develop a trust but initially you need to be their guide.
Search for bullying groups on Facebook. Type in “groups” in the search box at the top of the Facebook homepage. That takes you to the Groups homepage. From there you can search the groups for your child’s full name.
Report any groups or messages that appear to be bullying your child on Facebook. Click on the group name and then scroll down to the bottom of the screen. Click on the “Report Group” icon.
Report a single person’s bad behavior by clicking on “Report This Person” on that person’s profile screen. Since you must be friends to see the person’s profile page, you must be signed into your child’s account to do this. But don’t worry; the reporting is done anonymously, and no one will ever know your child was the one to report bad behavior.