callforchange

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me…”

Words can be just as detrimental and damaging as a fist could be.

I remember when I was a little girl, around the same age as my daughter is now which is seven, and was bullied every day from a boy in my class taunting me because I chose to spend most of my free playtime reading and was often considered a teacher’s pet.  He said mean words that, as a little girl, affected me immensely. They stung like bee stings, the after-effects causing missed days of school because I just couldn’t stand his pestering, lack of appetite, tear-stained pillow cases and the beginnings of social anxiety.  From an outsiders perspective, everyone thought I was okay.  I still had close friends, laughed and smiled often, was considered a social little butterfly because I was rather chatty (when I wanted to be) and my parents only received nothing but excellent report cards and feedback from my teachers.  I was fine.  Or so everyone thought.
It got to the point where I finally had to tell my parents, and thankfully the bullying was put to a halt thanks to the swift actions of my parents and the teacher and principal.

At 13, I became a victim of bullying again, this time from a girl from the same grade that just decided she didn’t like me. I was quite popular; lots of friends and I was academically studious. I was on the opposite of the typical bullying prey spectrum.
This girl had it in for me and wanted to make my life miserable. She was tough and rough and it got to the point where I was so afraid to see her in fear that she would want to hurt me physically.
It was different this time around than when I was seven.
I didn’t want to tell my parents. I wasn’t as confident in them doing anything that could really stop this girl from harming me. And I thought that if I did say something to an adult, she may get even more angry and do something right after.
This is how my close friends felt too.
My BYSTANDERS.
They comforted me, tried to fight back verbally at times to defend me (which only made things more intense) but never said anything to a trusted adult that would be best to handle the situation in a mature manner.

My parents never really spoke to me about bullying. In fact, my siblings and I were sort of sheltered in a world where our parents provided us the best of what they could because they just wanted us to be the best we could be and didn’t think bullying would ever really be an issue that we would have to face.
They were (and still are) the most amazing and supportive, really. But what was missing, was more conversation around more serious topics such as bullying. They didn’t talk about these things because they felt they didn’t need to. They just intervened when they had to. And that’s often the case.

Nowadays, things are worse.
In a digital world where The Plastics (From Mean Girls movie) and Blair Waldorf’s (from Gossip Girl) are considered funny and entertaining, and just about every child from ages 12 and up now own their very own smartphone and texting has replaced true phone calls and face time, cyber-bullying is on the rise and an increasingly infectious and vile plague.
And what’s scarier is cyber-bullying is 24-7.
There’s no place for someone to hide, the bully can be anonymous, it’s much harder to empathize with the target because you can’t see them face-to-face and there are no geographical locations or limits.
Kids, Youth and Teens are not as comfortable to open up to an adult about it, and neither are their friends/bystanders.

Unhappy Pre teen boy in school

My daughter is now seven and has been a victim of bullying on her school bus, that only after my husband and I initiated deeper conversation to see how she’s doing in school, did we find out.
She didn’t tell us right away. In fact, it has been going on since the end of last year.
She’s seven and the bully was an older, bigger boy on the bus that felt satisfaction in “proving” his coolness and toughness by picking on a younger, smaller 2nd grader on his bus.
What’s unsettling, is how much she enjoys her screen time now. She’s starting to be introduced to the online world and the fun in texting and and face-booking (no, she does not have her own Facebook account nor does she own a phone, but does text and facebook under her parents accounts with her cousins).
I can’t even imagine the pressure and intensity of the digital world for tweens and teens nowadays. It’s a rough time in a persons life. Peer pressure is high, you’re at stages where you’re developing and trying to discover who you are, school work increases, you start dating, you have so many questions yet you always think you know the answers… it’s a world I often miss but also glad it’s over at the same time.

Early education is critical and providing the resources and tools our children need, and also that we need as parents, to better understand how we can prevent cyber-bullying (and any bullying for that matter) is imperative.

Which is why I’m so thankful for the services offered through my telco provider, TELUS, with TELUS WISE – a trusted source to help keep families and communites safer featuring educational tools and resources around Internet and Smartphone safety including cyberbullying.
Learn more about TELUS wise here.

TELUS WISE partnered with PREVNet and MediaSmarts this year to conduct a national survey of 800 youth ages 12–18, to learn more about their attitudes and experiences as witnesses to electronic bullying  and the factors that influence whether or not they intervene.

Adults, what’s alarming about these findings is the role that we play and the lack of proper intervention.

  • 33% of youth said they do not intervene in cyberbullying situations because they do not believe adults give advice that helps.
  • 43% said they do not intervene because they believe talking to parents and teachers will change nothing;
  • However, youth’s top-rated intervention strategies involved talking to an adult

Here are more substantial key insights:

  • 42% of youth said they have been cyber-bullied while 60% said they had witnessed others being cyber-bullied
  • 71% of those who saw cyber-bullying did something to intervene at least once
  • 90% of youth said they would intervene if their family member were the target of cyberbullying while 37% would intervene for someone they do not know personally

It is a sigh of a relief seeing the bigger positive percentages in this but it’s also a big wake-up call to me as I’m sure it will be for you as a parent, an aunt or uncle, a grandparent, a teacher, a neighbour, etc.
As adults, we need to be provided with the right tools and resources to empower our youth to stand up to any form of bullying.

Check out this handy infographic that visually outlines the TELUS WISE report’s key findings (I found this super informative and helpful!) here.
Visit telus.com/wise to download more family-friendly bullying resources and access the full report here.

On computer without parental control

Before my daughter went to bed last week, I tucked her in and she said this to me, “Mommy, if someone is not nice to me or not nice to my friends, should I tell you right away?”
I nodded and replied, “Yes, please. I would very much like for you to tell me. Don’t ever be afraid to tell me anything.”

“But what if I was the one who did something mean to someone. Can I still tell you?”

I paused for a few seconds, taken aback at this unexpected question. I didn’t expect it because I would never think of my child to be the bully, ever. She’s a sweetheart. And more so because she was a victim herself and there’s no way she would choose to be one.
It got me thinking.
It is important to remember that children who bully are still children. They are acting that way for a reason, and they, too, need help and guidance from adults.

“Yes. I hope you never do and remember to be a friend. Just remember this: How would you feel if what you’re saying to or about someone is being said to you?”

“Yeah, taste your words before you spit them out.”

I chuckled.

“Okay so you know the deal. (Laughter) Where’d you get that from?”

“TV.”
Whoever said too much TV is bad for you may have been a little misguided.

“Well, that’s pretty awesome. Good night, sweetie. Proud of you.”

“Thanks, mommy. Proud of you too.”

This girl always knows what to say, doesn’t she? 🙂

How do you talk to your kids about cyber-bullying?
And what are you thoughts on the TELUS WISE Online peer intervention study findings?

Disclosure: This is sponsored content in collaboration with TELUS as a Team TELUS ambassador, but always, all opinions expressed are entirely those of the author.

42 comments on “The Cyberbullying Virus: Are You Doing Your Part As a Parent? TELUS WISE Study Findings Will Surprise You”

  1. I have my kids use the computers at the table to monitor what they are viewing online. I also haven’t signed them.up.yet for social media accounts as I don’t think they are ready. As well I have told them that what they post on the Internet will always be on the Internet forever!

  2. I was bullied as a kid – I can’t imagine how much worse it would be now with cyber bullying – thankfully my daughter has not had any issues, but as a parent I do worry

  3. Excellent article! It is very scary this cyber bullying as they really think no one will know what is going on, and the victim often suffers in silence. Let’s all do our part to tech our kids not to bully and to speak up if they are being bullied.

  4. Forgot about cyberbullying, which is something I never had to deal with. I will have to deal with this when my 2 girls are older!

  5. One of my grandsons has already been bullied and he has only just turned 9, I do worry a lot about cyber bullying as kids today spend so much time on the internet!

  6. I was bullied during school, because I have full lips, so they thought it was funny to call me clown lips. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like to be a tween/teen today with all the technology, that bullies can use to bully a victim.

  7. Personally, for me, bullying hits close to home. I was picked on from kindergarten to grade 12. Bullying regardless of the form is so harmful! The fact that we now have cyber bullying makes it even harder as it hides the face of the bully!

    • Sorry you had to go through that, Amanda. Bullying is a very serious thing and cyberbullying is now even more dangerous. Kids need to feel more confident in approaching an adult/parent about any type of bullying concern, big or small. Thanks for reading and sharing.

  8. I feel I do my part of to prevent cyber-bullying. One rule in my home is that if I don’t have your password, you don’t have wifi. We limit the time allowed on the electronics as well.

  9. Cyber bullying is terrible and unfortunately happens too often. I have been a part of a couple FB groups and have left because I have seen this going on. It was hard enough growing up when you just had to deal with bullies in person, I can only imagine how hard it is growing up with all this technology and alternative ways to bully. So important to talk to kids about this!

    • I too have left a few FB groups which were initially targeted at connecting parents, tips, advice, etc. And then it suddenly got nasty and catty due to varying opinions on topics. I always say that we are our children’s prime examples!

  10. I dread the day that my son is at this age. It’s so scary now with the online bullying. Before we could at least get away at our house but now there is no “safe” zone where they can’t reach you.

    • Me too. We want to shelter and protect our children as much as we can and now with everything being online, it’s not easy to track these things. Thankfully we have tools and ways to help with intervention and also even before it happens!

  11. This is excellent advice. I was bullied at a 12 year old, and it was stopped by my parents and teachers. I can’t imagine how much harder it is now, with cyber-bullying, when the bullies have access to you 24/7.

  12. It’s terrifying. Thankfully my children haven’t reached this yet at all. It’s a good thing life goes one day at a time.

  13. Cyberbullying is extremely dangerous you hear to all the time,teens dying,children stressed not wanting to attend school.We NEED to teach our children compassion,and NOT accept bullying and stand together to stop it

  14. I was bullied in high school. Someone even broke into my locker and cut all the button of my new winter coat. I said nothing and purchased new buttons and sewed them on.

    • Buttons, really? You just wonder what on earth is going on in the mind of a bully. Sorry to hear but good for you for just moving on and being a bigger person in the face of upset. Did this bully leave you alone after?

  15. I was never really bullied in school. I was actually the one standing up for people who I saw were being bullied. I loved talking to everyone no matter who thought you was “cool” or whatever the case may be. My brother on the other hand was bullied in elementary, actually bullied so much that we never even knew he was walking home crying everyday…he kept it secret. He talks about it now being in his 20’s. I have two little girls 3 and 1. My oldest being autistic. I am scared of what it will be like when they go to school as I know things these days ESPECIALLY with technology are far worse. The only thing I can do is talk to them and encourage them to be open and honest with me and to talk about it if/when it happens

    • So great if you, Kristen. I too was also the neutral in my high school years ensuring everyone was treated fairly despite if they were friends with me or not. I think with kids at these fragile ages between 12-18, they are still focused on discovering who they are and most often, gang mentality is what makes it difficult for bystanders to do the right thing. Unless you’re a good person, like you were. 🙂 sorry to hear about your brother. And I can empathize with your concerns but I believe the schools and parenting has come a long way in proper educating the children on special needs. It’s amazing to see actually! You’re a great mom.

  16. Having been bullied myself during my school years, I am extra sensitive to this issue. I would hope that my girls would come to me if they were experiencing cyberbullying. I also monitor their internet activity closely.

  17. We haven’t had the conversation about bullying/cyberbullying yet as our little one is only two…It’s a much different world than the one we grew up in as people today feel like they can say things online that they would never say face to face to someone…Parents have to be more vigilant and teach their children + I think schools are now starting to teach digital literacy to students, which is so important.

    • Yes, I’m impressed with seeing where our educational system is with teaching our children about digital safety and the example of brands like TELUS with their TELUS Wise offering proves that we are on a positive road here.

  18. Bullying is so bad and mean and should be stopped, but the truth is it is never going to stop and the sad thing about it is it’s not just kids doing the bullying either, it’s also adults, I was bullied so much in grade school that it has stuck with me my whole life to this day I will not eat out in public and I hardly ever leave the house all because of mean kids!!

    • Lynda I’m so sorry to hear. I wish I could give you a big hug right now. Honestly, you’re right there. Bullying comes in many forms and I see it happen even in this day and age between adults in the workplace and a lot of it as a blogger! It can get pretty nasty. I just understand but it’s those things you can’t and would rather not understand but just work on fixing.
      in the same breath, I can tell you that the bully is usually the bullied. They’re hurt people that hurt back to make themselves feel better. And you know, there are still lots of genuinely good people out there, like you. Stay positive and focus on your happiness and that’s all that matters now! 😉

  19. Bullying is terrifying, I was bullied and with social media it’s so much easier for kids to get bullied. I’m terrified for my kids

    • It’s definitely terrifying to think about but I think we can be optimistic about the future! With the recent findings and better digital safety and anti-bullying education, we can hope that our efforts now will be of huge benefit to our children and children’s children later! 🙂

  20. One of my daughters was bullied out of jr high. I went to the school and the police and nothing was done and I just couldn’t make her go back. We homeschooled for a year and then she went back to another school for her final two years.

    • Ugh, sorry to hear, Anne. And I’m surprised (and saddened) at the fact that the police and school was not able to do anything.
      But I applaud you for stepping up and doing everything you could possibly do as a parent. Great job!

  21. I was bullied throughout my tween years because of my big glasses – it was horrible. These bullies then went on to being my friends in high school. Funny how that works out, huh?
    I really enjoyed reading this post as I learned so much! I didn’t realize that kids felt it hard to open up to an adult about bullying. Cyberbullying is scary. It’s truly a tough thing to go through as I’ve seen from tweens and teens these days and watching tragic new stories of suicides that were prompted from cyberbullying. I believe there’s even a movie that came out about this exact topic. Really impressed with Telus and their goals in helping eliminate cyberbullying and educating parents and peers. Telus Wise is a fantastic service. I will make sure to share this with my family and friends that are with Telus (or plan to be!)

    • Thanks for reading and sharing, Michelle. Yes, I agree. It was a similar situation with me; the bully in my younger years (the boy) ended up having a huge crush on me at the end of elementary school and the tweenage bully also became a cool classmate in high school.
      Lucky for us we didn’t have to deal with cyberbullying as the kids nowadays do. It’s really hard.
      And so important to nip it in the butt sooner than later. I’m really impressed with TELUS and TELUS Wise and cannot rave about it enough. I hope you and your loved ones find some useful resources.
      Thanks again for the read!

  22. I have to say, I cannot imagine being a teen with technology today… There is so much pressure! It’s wonderful that people are addressing that cyber bullying is VERY real and can be very dangerous!

    • Right? It was hard enough for us growing up in the teen years with no technology other than maybe the start of pagers but even if, nothing in comparison to our children now. It’s rough!
      Cyberbullying can be so very dangerous and thankful for the support that’s provided now.

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