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“I see you. I know where you are right now, and I’m coming to get you.” David winced as he looked at the computer screen. Who had sent this message, and why did they keep contacting him? The harassment had started two weeks before with a single message; “You’re ugly,” and it had escalated to the point where David was feeling more than a little bit uncomfortable. These messages were starting to rule his thoughts. Who was it that was contacting him? Was he being stalked by some unknown assailant, or was it just some other kid in his high school fooling around?

The scenario that was just described isn’t at all uncommon.This activity can be called a variety of things but the generic term is Cyber-bullying. It’s a reality for more than just a few people on the information superhighway and it’s not just aggravating; it can be down right scary.

Hinduja and Patchin completed a study in the summer of 2005 of approximately 1500 Internet-using adolescents and found that over one-third of youth reported being victimized online and over 16% of respondents admitted to cyber-bullying others. While most of the instances of cyber bullying involved relatively minor behavior (40% were disrespected, 18% were called names), over 12% were physically threatened and about 5% feared for their safety.

If you are a parent and you have kids in school, the chances are one in seven that your child will be Cyber-bullied.

Here’s what you can do about it:

1. Ask God for wisdom. Your child is precious to the Creator, and you can ask for clarity of thought and the ability to make good decisions.

2. Talk with your kids about it. Even if they have never been annoyed or threatened electronically it’s still important to let them know the dangers that exist. Encourage them to come to you if someone is bullying them.

3. Be involved in your child’s online activities. Make it your business to know where they go and why they’ve gone there. Your children may know their way around the computer better than you, but help is available. Seek it out.
Learn where they are going and what they are doing electronically.

4. Contact the authorities if your child comes to you with stories of being electronically harassed or threatened in anyway. This activity can constitute a computer crime, and laws exist that enable authorities to check it out. Your child is worth it.

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By Michael Temple. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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