Cyberbullying, sexting, online privacy—these issues can put a toll on any parent these days. In addition to the online threats that our children face, they still have to deal with the normal problems of growing up, which, for those of us who can remember, isn’t an easy feat. Unfortunately, for some children “growing up” can be harder than it has to be. These unfortunate few have to deal with more than the regular bullying that we were used to in school; they have to deal with being threatened and bullied online and at school. On top of that, the situation can be made much worse as it can become viral on the Internet in a matter of minutes via social networks and email. As you can imagine, because of this, the abuse continues to haunt them over and over. It’s no secret that things need to change. Our children’s lives shouldn’t be in danger because of the Internet, their lives should be enhanced, but sadly, this isn’t necessarily the case.
Though we currently have parents, teachers, and our government doing what they can to help the situation, what we need now are kids who stand up to these causes–kids who can act as role models to our children by setting an example of good online citizenship–which is something that we’re doing with our Yoursphere Ambassador program. The main reason we started the program was because we honestly believe that the most influential role models for our children are other children the same age as them. We need kids who make it cool to stand up against the bully. Simply put, we need kids who aren’t bystanders, but upstanders.
Thanks to Amy Jussel, founder and executive director of Shaping Youth, I was fortunate enough to learn what an “upstander” is. Her website, which is a great resource for parents to keep up with the impact of media on youth, recently focused on a youth movement about upstanding. Movements like Bully Bust, which is being hosted by The National School Climate Change website, is the perfect place to see what upstanders are saying about today’s online issues. The site is constantly being updated in real-time with quotes from kids who want to make a difference.
Parents, it’s such a relief to know that there are kids out there who see the problems of bullying and sexting, and that they’re taking the initiative to generate positive messaging and engaging kids in creating change and awareness about these important issues. Upstanders are setting an example, and a good one at that, and they need all the support they can get. So please spread the word about movements like Bully Bust, and be sure to check out sites like SchoolClimate.org, ShapingYouth.org, and the “Cruel’s Not Cool” page on Facebook.