When parents become cyberbullies.From starting cyberbullying prevention early to raising awareness about online safety, we've covered many aspects of keeping kids safe and happy in an increasingly wired world. But cyberbullying isn't just the preserve of kids. In fact, a couple of shocking news stories illustrate that parents can even cyberbully their own children.
Read More: Cyberbullying Prevention Starts Earlier Than You Think
Over at the Washington Post, advice columnist Marguerite Kelley responds to a reader who flew off the handle when she saw her nephew humiliated online by his own mother:
I recently opened Facebook and found that my sister had posted a picture of my nephew, her son, who was crying and holding a sign that said, "I lied to my family." [...] I didn't react well and asked my sister to take the picture down immediately, but I'm still afraid that the punishment may have harmed him indirectly, which would make it even worse.
Much like the mother who forced her son to wear a sign declaring he was a thief, I am sure there will be plenty of people who agree with such measures if the transgression warrants the punishment. But I must say it leaves me profoundly disturbed. Sure, kids need to learn that there are consequences to their actions and that they can't do as they please, but public humiliation is a cruel attempt to undermine a child's self esteem - not reach an understanding. As Kelley's response argues, a little shame or guilt can be a useful tool in teaching kids right from wrong, but such an extreme (and public) approach smacks more of revenge than it does a serious attempt to put things right.Man "Sexts" Pictures of His Step Daughter to Teach Her a Lesson
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Meanwhile Forbes reports that an Arizona man takes inappropriate use of online technologies to a whole new level, having decided to "teach" his stepdaughter about the dangers of sexting by sending out a nude photo of her to a large portion of her contact list:
But that's what Arizona man, Eugene Foster, 31 did when he found a naked photo of his girlfriend's daughter on her phone. After an argument about the photo, he decided to "teach her a lesson" about what could happen and "sexted" it out on her behalf.
Now the absurdity of Foster's actions need little analysis or discussion. Sending out naked, sexualized photos of underage children is wrong, whichever way you look at it. Besides a violation of privacy and a risk to the child, it shows little willingness to understand that kids will be exploring their sexuality and need careful guidance and advice, not punitive humiliation.
But the bigger story here is that we live in an online world, where each of us has the ability to cause great harm at the click of a button. We all know that as parents we can lose our temper, react badly and make mistakes. (Judge Not is the golden rule of parenting for a reason.) But when we do those things online, they can be awfully hard to take back and put right. So let's all think carefully next time we are discussing our kids on Facebook, kids aren't the only ones who can be cruel in a virtual (or real world) environment.
This post was written by Sami Grover.
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