As if doing poorly in a sporting competition that you have trained for your whole life isn’t devastating enough. Yes, even star athletes are bullied. Cyberbullies are cruel and their intent is to hurt another person. I spend my professional life talking to parents and kids about cyberbullying, how to stop it and the horrible affects it has on someone. Everyday I am in disbelief that there is not more publicity and community outrage about this epidemic.
Did you hear about Tom Daley, the synchronised diver from Great Britain? He and his fellow diver were the favorite to win the gold metal but ended up not coming in first place. As if watching the media replaying it on television wasn’t enough to kill this man’s self esteem, some anonymous person tweeted this, "You let your dad down I hope you know that," referring to his father's death last year from a brain tumor.
The sender then issued death threats.
I share this story in hopes that you will show this to your students or own teen and use it as a teaching tool. Here is my advice on how to talk about this and what to say when discussing this story with your teen:
1. What is Bullying? What is Cyberbullying?/What exact type of behaviors is considered bullying/cyberbullying?
2. How do you think this tweet really affected this athlete? Have you ever had a tweet written about you? How did it affect you? How did it feel to read how it affected someone else?
3. Can we control what others tweet about us?
4. What should we do if someone tweets something negative about us?
5. What should we do if someone negative tweets about one of our friends?
6. What should we do if someone tweets something negative about someone we don’t know? Did you know that: This cyberbully turned out to be a 17-year-old and was arrested for something called malicious communications?
7. What are the possible consequences someone could face here? If you had written something mean about someone, do you think this could affect your future? Do you think it is possible that a college or employer could find out about something you have written on the internet?
Remember: The most important thing we as educators or parents can do to protect our kids is to talk with them about these things…things that our teens are being exposed to everyday! GOOD LUCK!