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Cyberbullying Suicide: How Do You Protect Your Kids?

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By Minara El-Rahman on January 28, 2010 11:55 AM

A recent cyberbullying suicide illustrated just how mean kids can be on the internet and if cyberbullying laws may be the answer. ABC News reports that Irish immigrant Ms. Phoebe Prince was taunted on her Facebook page even after her suicide broke on the news. Facebook administrators had to remove the offensive content. The 15 year old girl committed suicide on Jan. 14 in Massachusetts.

We wrote about how Megan Meier killed herself after the her former friend's mother posed as a boy on MySpace, wooed her, and then dumped her. The mother wrote that "the world would be better off without you." There have been two more suicides that grabbed headlines because they involved children getting teased online. Just this week, a nine year old boy in Texas hung himself in the nurse's office in his school.

More and more of these incidents are causing states to intervene with their own laws about cyberbullying. We wrote about some of the laws that states have passed about cyberbullying here in the Law and Daily and Life Blog. While this has been helpful, one of the most important resources that your kids have against cyberbullying is actually you.

What do you tell your kids about cyberbullying? How do you make sure that they have the tools that need in order to cope with it? Here are a few tips on how to deal with this growing problem among kids:

  • Tell your kids that they should act with others online as they would in actual life.
  • Ask around and see if your school has an internet safety program that they require students to attend. If not, try to start one at your kid's school.
  • Tell your kids about what is appropriate and inappropriate online. Let them know that cyberbullying hurts, but you are there if they need to talk to you.
  • Make sure that you are a good example. Don't badmouth others online. Kids learn behaviors first and foremost from their parents.
  • Keep an eye on what your kids are doing online.
  • Use filtering or blocking software to protect your kids from harmful online content, Just be aware that kids can sometimes figure ways around that though.
  • Look for signs of withdrawal or obsessiveness. This could indicators that they are either cyberbullies or being cyberbullied.
  • Set guidelines with cell phone use and internet use. You can indicate time limits and texting limits.
  • Keep communication open with your kids. Let them know that if anything bad happens online, you will help them.
  • Make sure to let your kids know that there are certain morals and values that you believe in and that they should follow them even when in cyberspace.

While this is just a few tips, you can definitely add your own. The important thing is to stress the importance of safety and the dangers of cyberbullying with your own kids.

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