The New York Post had an article yesterday that drew a strange cyberbullying conclusion – that zero tolerance policies in schools are enabling the growth of a generation of super bullies.
The primary backdrop for the story is the tragic case of Rebecca Sedwick, the Florida teen who committed suicide last month after being relentlessly cyberbullied by two other students. The Post’s contention is that if students were allowed to physically fight back against bullies, more of them would be stopped in their tracks, and bullying cases would in far fewer instances lead to a result as grave as suicide.
We don’t disagree that zero tolerance policies have unintended consequences, but certainly don’t advocate violence. Our main area of contention with the article stems from the following:
“Or we say: It’s the parent’s fault. They didn’t monitor their children closely enough, didn’t care that their child was being abusive.
But there have always been absentee parents and mean children. Yes, the Internet provides more opportunities for a kind of bullying, but what’s really changed is that real bullies don’t face consequences anymore.”
Dismissing the fact there are absentee parents and mean children as a given is a woefully poor starting point for a conversation on cyberbullying. Yes, the internet gives bullies more outlets to ply their trade, but also gives more transparency to parents who care to investigate what their children are doing online.
As a parent, you can’t see what is going on at school; the school has to tell you. On Facebook for example, the cyberbullying is out there in the open unless the bully’s account is set to private and it won’t be. Bullies want attention.
We would argue that some subset of the “absentee parents” referenced above either don’t have the time or resources to investigate their kids’ online activity, and are just hoping that everything is OK. A recent survey revealed that 49% of parents admit to not having the ability to monitor their kids’ online activity. If you have no idea what your kids are doing online, and no clue where to start looking, ThirdParent can help.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.