By Paul Grossinger
Natick is usually known as a peaceful town; a nice place for kids to grow up. But, recently, police received multiple, credible reports of repeat digital cyberbullying via social media sites and mobile devices, according to Boston.com.
Following the reports, Natick school administrators asked parents to monitor their children’s digital activity: both to ensure they are not cyberbullying victims and to make sure they are not (and do not become) bullying perpetrators.
It is all too easy to bully digitally and Natick’s plight is part of a rising national trend of rising cyberbullying attacks. From Gabrielle Molina in New York, to Rebecca Ann Sedwick in Florida, to Donna Sitwell’s crusade on behalf of her daughter Hope, to countless others, millions of children and parents are suffering from rising cyberbullying attacks.
And the issue is only likely to grow worse.
In Natick, educators were working to get ahead of the curve. “This is a significant issue – it’s a byproduct of a digital generation,” Superintendent Peter Sanchioni said by phone. “We’re striving to be proactive and get on it as quick as possible.”
Nonetheless, few doubt that it will take a multipronged strategy to get cyberbullying under control in schools – and ultimately to roll back the threat of rising cyberbullying attacks.
First, parents must be aware. Natick administrators are right to ask parents to watch their children’s digital activity. Ignorance is not bliss – it is the first step on the road to tragedy. MMGuardian Parental Control, which lets parents set alerts for their children’s texts and forwards bullying content to parent’s phones, is one option for this kind of proactive child protection.
Second, parents and educators must be proactive not reactive. Simply monitoring activity is not enough. Parents must take steps to actively prevent bullying, especially if their teens are unable or unwilling to protect themselves.
After all, as Natick administrators said themselves, “History has taught us that this type of behavior can result in tragedies and, therefore, it should not be taken lightly.”