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Age of social media has led to emergence of Cyber bullying amongst school kids. change in values and parenting is required to combat it.
Mona was devastated to see her daughter, Shirin, crying incessantly after returning from the school. Shirin was so disturbed that she wanted to end her life. She said, ” Mumma, I don’t want live anymore. I know you will be very upset on hearing this. But at least you can change my school if you want me to live.” Mona didn’t know how to react! All sorts of unpleasant things that she had been reading in the newspapers and seeing during news telecasts started haunting her. But keeping aside all her worries, she tried to make her daughter calm and then slowly asked Shirin to narrate what had actually happened. Whatever she narrated was enough for spinning Mona’s head and senses.
Shirin informed that as soon as she entered her class today, all her classmates started laughing at her. When she tried to find out the reason, she was surprised to see her funny pictures on different social media sites and all her friends started making fun of her. Listening to her daughter’s ordeal, Mona checked all the social media accounts that her daughter was part of. She decided to raise the issue with the school authorities but she realized, nothing much was in their hands.
Another incident took place in one of the most reputed schools, Rashmi came back home with a surprise news for her mother. She asked her mother, Vaidehi, to check one instagram account. But Vaidehi and her husband did not have any account on Instagram. Therefore she gave the id to one of her friends to check. They were shocked to see their daughter’s profile at instagram with obscene tag lines and pictures of her favourite actors, not to mention that Rashmi’s photographs were also posted on her account. Someone had created a fake profile of her daughter. On asking, Rashmi admitted that she had posted those pictures on an app (called YouCam Makeup App). When Vaidehi started checking and enquiring, trying to find out the person who had made a fake profile for her daughter, she found out about many other fake profiles. On further research, she concluded that it had to be one of the classmates of her daughter. She was sure that it was someone among her daughter’s friends as she had asked her daughter to tell her friends that they were going to raise a formal FIR with the Cyber Crime Cell and that the police will find out the real culprit. Same day, Vaidehi also put across a message in the school WhatsApp group informing about the incident to the other parents and mentioned about raising an FIR. As expected, Rashmi informed her mother that a couple of her classmates looked worried and within 48 hours, the culprit deleted all the obscene posts and few pictures. Also this created an alarm for the other parents also who were not checking their child’s online activities. Few other parents also found out their kid’s fake profiles on different social media platforms.
Rashmi’s account was reported to Instagram and hence blocked. She now understood why her parents were always asking her to be very cautious about being online. She learnt her lessons and realized why her parents never chose to be active on social media.
The above mentioned incidents are a wake up call for us as parents and educators. A few conclusions that Vaidehi could summarize during her research to find out the culprit were –
The kids are smart these days and exposed to different social media platforms. Peer pressure makes these young adults to push their limits and look cool by resorting to various adventurous activities.
This younger generation is eager to learn and put that learning into practice by experimenting on others (as they are smart enough not to experiment on their own).
The teenagers dare to be adventurous at any cost so that they sound/ look cool in front of their peer group. They easily shed their inhibitions in order to experiment in the name of ” sab chalta hai aaj kal”.
The kids are smart enough to safeguard themselves from getting into any major trouble. For example, in Rashmi’s case, the culprit was smart enough to create fake profile using his/her friend’s gadget.
While resorting to cyber bullying, the general observation was that the culprit did not use his or his family member’s gadgets to create fake profiles, instead they used their friend’s or relative’s gadgets to be adventurous. These kids knew very well that parents of the child being bullied would either not realise it or would definitely not go to report to cyber crime cell to avoid all hassle.
These days parents are being taught and reminded to be very caring and trust their kids. Many things are said and discussed about being a good parent who should trust the kid so that the kid doesn’t shy away in informing them of anything that happens to them. This has given rise to new form of bullying.
Neetu and Natasha studied in the same class, had common friends and lived in the same apartment complex. As a result their parents knew each other and were cordial with each other. Being in the same school and apartment, they often met each other in different classes, birthday parties, etc and went to the school in the same bus. But Neetu and Natasha somehow did not like each other; but because of the common social circle they behaved in a cordial manner with each other in presence of their parents or other common friends. Once it so happened that they had an argument over something and Natasha said some nasty things to Neetu and used foul language to abuse her. Neetu threatened to inform this bad behaviour to Natasha’s parents. On listening to this Natasha started laughing loudly and challenged Neetu to go ahead and try. Natasha knew that her parents, especially her mother, blindly trusted her. She admitted that she just had to go home and tell her parents that someone might come home to complain against her as she had an argument with her friend in the school.
Neetu reported this to her mother and as expected, her mother asked her to ignore the incident and stay away from Natasha. Neetu’s mother wanted her to learn to deal with the bullys on her own without involving parents in these trivial matters.
This incident highlights two issues – First of all, (most) kids know that their parents blindly trust them and hence it’s easy for them to do the “damage control” if they anticipate that a particular behaviour might get them reprimanded from their parents. Thus, they know how to manipulate their parents. This confidence is contagious and encourages them to get away by doing little drama in front of teachers and elders.
On the other hand there are parents who don’t trust their kids blindly. So the kids of such parents always feel that their parents don’t love them enough and it’s very difficult for them to understand the difference between blind trust and trust. In such a situation it becomes very difficult on the part of parents to make their kids trust them.
The second issue being the intolerance to accept one’s flaws. We live in the world which is so obsessed with “perfectionism”; perfect looks, perfect smiles, perfect kids, perfect parties, perfect family pictures, perfect holidays, perfect homes, perfect….. everything should ‘look’ perfect. In the rat race of showing/ being perfect, we hesitate to accept the beauty of certain things being imperfect. We, as parents, know about our own and our kids’ imperfect behaviours. We hesitate to discuss things with others and our kids know this. We are not ready to listen to anyone who tries to bring something to our notice regarding our kid’s wrong or bad behaviour or habit. When we are not open to such discussions which requires us to know about our kid’s real behaviour, we are doing most harm to our own family and the kid rather than anyone else.
Parenting is becoming tougher by each passing day as today’s parents had never been exposed to such situations in their childhood and the new age of technological exposure has made it difficult to understand and deal with certain situations. The kids are growing up fast in terms of getting all sorts of information which is mostly age inappropriate. The challenge, in this time, is for parents to keep up with technological knowledge and behavior while using different social media sites. On one hand they are themselves exploring new things being offered by internet and on the other hand it’s difficult for them to keep away their children from the darker side of internet related things.
Bullying has been a part of human life since ages. Only the form of bullying has changed over the different ages. It’s not the children only who face bullying, in fact our parents and we have also faced bullying. Bullies are everywhere (in different shapes and sizes) and we cannot escape them every time.
The only way to deal with bullying is to make ourselves strong and help our children also to be stronger. In fact we should always encourage our child to be mentally stronger using different techniques like meditation, playing role play, narrating age appropriate stories of great men/women who dared to be different and who struggled to bring about positive changes in our society.
We should definitely look back at the older generation (our parents and grandparents) about how they helped us to be stronger. Most of the times children were left to play on their own with their friends and cousins etc and the parents never / hardly interfered in their small fights. Sometimes even a neighbor had the authority to scold the child for displaying wrong behavior. People were more tolerant then as compared to the current situation.
Times have changed and so have the societal norms also. We can definitely not live like the previous generation but we can definitely adopt certain good habits or learn some good lessons from them.
These days we always talk about giving respect and privacy to a child, which is appropriate and required. But that doesn’t mean to stop scolding or correcting our child when he or she has done wrong.
To conclude, I would like to reiterate the importance of accepting ones own flaws, have an open mind (without any presumptions and assumptions or bias), paying more attention to the emotional quotient and intelligence than the IQ. We should definitely trust our kids but understand the fine difference between trust and blind faith. The world will be a better place for our kids if we make them strong enough to face any situation rather than being overprotective about our kids. We should let them take their own decisions and most importantly we should make them understand and take the responsibility of the consequences of their actions and choices also. If we are able to inculcate the sense of responsibility (of their own actions) in our kids, the world will not have any bullies. And as history has proved and shown us through examples of all the great men/women have become great only when they stood firm and did not give up in front of their bullies. Be it any great emperor or queen from the past or any soldier in the British India or any great scientist or great leader, the examples and role models are plenty if we see around… we can find many in our day to day life , be it our maids or servants in the offices or the shopkeeper in the neighborhood or a small child who raises his/ her voice if someone tries to tease or misbehave with him/her or his friends….
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