-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Cyberbullies victimize their
classmates and acquaintances online because they don't see the
immediate consequences of their actions and they mistakenly believe
their posts, tweets or emails can't be traced back to them,
according to one expert.
"If a girl posts a mean remark online, she doesn't have to witness the target's hurt reaction," explained Brandie Oliver, an assistant professor of school counseling at Butler University in Indianapolis who also supervises a high school peer counseling program. "Many students post messages that they would never say in a face-to-face situation."
Children should be taught to stand up for themselves -- both in
real time and in cyberspace, Oliver said. "Kids need to speak up
and tell other kids (especially a bully) what they need and what
they don't want," she explained in a university news release.
As a rash of U.S. suicides has shined a spotlight on
cyberbullying, Oliver outlined some ways to help young people
survive digital attacks and also protect themselves from future
Parents should get involved and help their children understand
the online world, Oliver advised. Also, parents must limit Internet
access if they believe their teens are not capable of handling the
drama that can play out online, she said.
Oliver said her own teenage daughter "tries to tell me
everyone has a Facebook account. I know that's not true, and
I don't feel that my daughter is ready for this digital step. You
have to stand firm and be a parent."
Parents should also direct their kids toward activities that
build up their self-confidence to help them fend off potential
attacks by bullies. "Kids with self-confidence have a built-in
shield against bully behavior," she said.
Oliver added that young people should be encouraged to stand up
for other kids who are the victims of bullies and report any
harassment or bullying to an adult.
The U.S. National Crime Prevention Council provides more
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