I very recently found out that my youngest daughter, who is in middle school, has been the target of a cyberbully. I take steps to keep a watchful eye on any of her online activity, but I’m human and some things slip past me. Thankfully, others are helping to ensure her safety. In this case, my oldest daughter was added to what started out as a fun messaging conversation in Instagram. It very quickly descended into a cyberbullying incident, where the girl in question called my daughter ugly, an a**hole and when my oldest daughter commented, asking if her parents knew she was doing this sort of thing online, she continued by saying, “shut up grandma” to my 27 year old daughter. Some “F” word comments made it in the conversation and thankfully, my daughter blocked the girl.
Wanting to address the situation and feeling strongly enough to write about it, I found the above meme. What is so insulting about it, is that it suggests that the person being cyberbullied just turn their device off. This stops the person from seeing the comments, but how does it “stop” it? It’s still there and a person shouldn’t have to stop enjoying fun, online interaction in order to avoid being bullied.
I do believe that there are several reasons why someone would resort to this type of behavior online, but I’m no expert, so my ideas are speculative and based solely on limited research and personal opinion. However, when your own child is involved, it’s easy to get very angry and want to make it stop, but I went straight to the local school website and looked up their policies about bullying. Thankfully, the policy on cyberbullying extends to activities that happen off school property. The girl in question here also had her profile picture available and I took screenshots of that and her user name, which includes her real first name.
In the limited research I did, I found out that of course, most of these people are not sitting on the couch while their parents watch them post such things. They are often in their rooms or independent of supervision, where the bullying can flourish. I am hoping that by exposing the situation, the school will take the appropriate action, but I do not sit here with any confidence that this is the perfect solution. In fact, I worry that this could bring more misery on to my daughter by making this an issue. However, I cannot allow that fear to prevent me from bringing this bully to light and take care of the situation.
We can make all the memes we want that support anti-bullying like the one here. However, until we really bring this issue forward and address it out in the open and deal with it seriously and with lasting consequences, it will continue. I was bullied, my oldest daughter was bullied, my son was bullied. So this isn’t something new. There are just new avenues for these bullies to continue their agenda.
While this “cute” little meme pretty much exemplifies how I will feel walking into the school tomorrow with all the forms and evidence, I am under no illusion that they will call the girl to the office, she will admit everything, her parents will be notified and it will be all rainbows and sprinkles for my daughter. I know that opening up a can of worms like this can cause a storm before the weather clears. I know that she may get teased for her “mommy coming to her rescue” or other such things. It’s how bullies like to continue their attack and make sure the person being bullied fears them. I get that. However, that doesn’t mean I’m going to back down and let her get away with it.
There is probably no way that bullying will ever be completely eradicated from this world. Heck, adults still do it. As a domestic abuse survivor, I know how bullies work using power and control to push their agenda on others. I will not allow my daughter to be subject to it as long as there is something I can do to put a stop to it.