OUR VOICE: Cyberbullying: Words do hurt

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Farm Forum

Many of us may remember the old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. In today’s technological world, bullies never have to pick up a stick or a stone; they can hide behind a smartphone or rest their fingers on a keyboard.

Recently, 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwich hurled herself off of a tower at a concrete plant. She died. Over the last year of her life, she was tormented by as many as 15 other girls in what appears to be the latest case of death by cyberbullying.

While Sedwich was from Florida, we should not be so naïve to think cyberbullying does not happen locally. This brings up the question: Where does parental violation of privacy transform into a larger issue than trust?

Some would argue that kids do not have privacy until they earn it. Others establish a mutual respect for other’s privacy, including between them and their children. Regardless of how the question is answered, we must always remember that kids, no matter the age, are not transparent. While Rebecca told her mom when she was first being bullied, she hid that the tormenting continued.

Our advice: Use your resources. Talk to your kid(s) about being a bully, being bullied and what to do if he or she knows someone that is being bullied. Visit stopcyberbullying.com. Monitor your children’s online activity. And, unless your ultimate plan is to roll your kid up in bubble wrap and shelter him or her from the online world, you can never really be too safe.

— American News editorial board