Protecting your child from cyberbullying

Although not as physically painful as a black eye or sore lip, cyberbullying could potentially do much worse damage to a child in the long run. Two years ago, cruel remarks on MySpace supposedly drove a 13-year-old from California to commit suicide.

MySpace and Facebook are popular sites students visit to socialize with friends.But they can also be a common place for cyberbullying.

Messages on the sites are often anonymous, which can lead to more serious harassment. To combat all kinds of bullying, New Hanover County schools started a program called Stand Up, Speak Out. It teaches kids the importance of standing up to their peers and voicing their problems responsibly.

Assistant superintendent, Dr. Rick Holliday, said cyberbullies are difficult to catch if students are not using the schools’ computers. “More often than not though, it’s coming from a personal device. They’re doing it from home or they’re using their own cell phones to text or even e-mail from the phone itself,” he said.

Sophomore Deshon Barfield said he feels safe on MySpace. “Truthfully and honestly, I feel like MySpace is not a bad place. Because people that I know that have MySpace, they’re only on there for their friends to talk to somebody online,” he said.

But others are not so lucky. According to, 42 percent of kids have been bullied while online and 53 percent of kids admit to bullying others.

If your child feels threatened by a cyberbully, tell school officials and notify police, and do not erase any hurtful messages, because they can be used as evidence.

As technology advances, Dr. Holliday said New Hanover County schools will adjust their program accordingly.

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