by Lisa Rosen and Linda Rubin
I received an email from my children’s school district alerting me that October is National Bullying Prevention Month in the USA. The email indicated that the district wanted to collaborate with families on this initiative. I eagerly followed the link provided for parent resources and found a page with very general information, including breathing exercise and books on healthy brain development and happiness. As a parent of a middle school child, I want to know steps I can take to help protect my child from bullying and cyberbullying as well as clear information on what the school district is doing. In particular, as our children are spending more time online, cyberbullying is a growing concern.
Fortunately, a great deal of research has been done in the last ten years on how schools and parents can help prevent cyberbullying. There have been detailed curriculums develop for schools to aid in their efforts to help stop bullying and cyberbullying. My colleague, Linda Rubin, and I are dedicated to learning how parents can best support children through challenging peer experiences. Research suggests that keeping tabs on your children both online and offline can help protect them from bullying and being bullied. Further, having a warm, supportive relationship can go a long way in children being comfortable sharing difficult peer experiences, and when needed, parents can approach schools about intervening in bullying/ cyberbullying incidents. My hope is that all districts, including my children’s district, will take bullying and cyberbullying more seriously and develop meaningful partnerships with parents because children have the right not to be bullied at school or online.
Lisa Rosen and Linda Rubin are members of the Psychology Program at Texas Woman’s University. In their P/I/K chapter, “Mothering/Cyberbullying/Kids,” they highlight how cyberbullying relates to adjustment with attention to the bully, the victim, and their mothers. They discuss the potential role mothers can play in promoting prosocial online conduct and supporting children who are victims of cyberbullying.