In the past, kids used to terrorize each other on the playground. It's not right, but it's probably something that that majority of us have experienced or at least seen. Many children have issues with their peers, but as they grow up, these things fade away into obscurity.
However, that's not always the case anymore. That saying "The Internet is forever" is true - things that are posted on websites, forums and social media pages can sometimes be deleted, but they're always present on the Internet somewhere. They never truly disappear.
This is just part of the reason why cyberbullying is such a major issue. Mean comments made online can follow both bullies and their victims around for years and affect their personal lives and business opportunities. Kids using the Internet might not think this is such a big deal, but their parents know better, so it's up to mom and dad to try to set some rules and keep the lines of communication open.
Keeping kids safe from their peers - or making sure they're not the bullies themselves - is particularly important in Canada, where so many youngsters go online regularly. Screen Smart reported that 94 per cent of Canadian children between grades 4 and 11 go online when they're at home, and 85 per cent say they are able to access the Internet outside of their houses as well, perhaps from wireless devices or at school.
So what do Canadian parents need to keep in mind before the school year kicks off and the time is ripe for new bullies to appear?
Monitor their activities
Obviously, the easiest thing to do is to check on your children's browsing history, but older kids might put up a fuss about this, thinking that it's an infringement on their privacy. After a certain age, simply having a conversation about what is and isn't acceptable online and explaining that mom and dad are always around to talk with no judgment can be just as effective.
Really looking into online activities is important now, as even news sites can turn into breeding grounds for online bullies of any age. Canada.com explained that Arianna Huffington recently highlighted this at an event in Boston. She told audience members that "trolls" are everywhere and are quick to start "fights" in comment sections of various websites. This is why The Huffington Post will no longer be open to anonymous commenters in the near future, the news source said.
Despite what parents want to believe, the fact is that bullies have moms and dads. It can be quite a shock when they discover that there's bullying going on, but their child isn't the victim. Parents have likely had the discussion about what to do if their little ones are being made fun of over the Internet, but perhaps not the conversation about what will happen if their child is the bully.
Again, ensuring that there's an open door policy is usually a good strategy, but moms and dads have to let their kids know that any bullying is unacceptable behavior and there will be real consequences.